Restorative justice (RJ) is an approach to justice in which victim and offender gather voluntarily to discuss the effects of the crime and to find ways to repair the harm done. Empirical findings suggest that offenders tend to spontaneously offer apologies to their victims. However, due to the ritualistic component of RJ and its possible (sometimes predefined, sometimes not) effect on the criminal procedure, some questions arise: How do victims perceive offenders’ apology? Is sincerity the main issue that victims care about or is there more than sincerity for victims of crime?
This chapter aims to discuss these questions by exploring three main issues, namely the physical aspect of the RJ ritual, the symbolic meaning that victims give to offender’s apologies, and the relationship between apologies and victim’s response. The authors will draw conclusions related to the implications of these questions for practice and will reflect on them from a social perspective.