Meredith Rossner

Meredith Rossner

Administrative support: Michele Sahrle
Room: New Academic Building 6.33
Tel. 020-7955-6386 

Meredith Rossner joined the LSE in 2013 as an assistant professor of criminology. Before joining the LSE, she was a research fellow at the University of Western Sydney. She holds a PhD in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA and BA from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include emotions and interactions in criminal justice, criminology theory, restorative justice, and juries. She is co-editor of LSE Law Policy Briefing Papers.

Research Interests

Dr. Rossner's research interests focus on the intersection of social interaction and judicial processes. This has led to a number of research projects on the emotional and ritual elements of the justice process, with a particular focus on the role of lay people. She has conducted research on the emotional dynamics of restorative justice conferences, the dynamics and democratic potential of jury deliberation, and how design and technology impact justice proceedings.


Just Emotions: Rituals of Restorative Justice (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Just Emotions Rituals of Restorative JusticeEven as restorative justice has captured the attention of justice practitioners, academics and communities worldwide and most research suggests that it has the potential to repair the harm of a criminal offence and reduce offending, there is also evidence that it can have no effect or even make things worse. Just Emotions: Rituals of Restorative Justice attempts to address these conflicting findings by analyzing how conferences work as a unique form of justice ritual.

With a pioneering new approach to the micro-level study of the processes and emotions involved in successful conferences, this book offers clues on how to improve the practice and increase successful outcomes. Using an eclectic methodological approach, the author presents a model that adapts Goffman's and Collins' ideas about the interaction ritual chain by focusing on participants' emotions, emotional turning points, and the emergence of rhythm and solidarity between participants. The approach involves a contrasting systematic empirical program, including a combination of qualitative interviews, detailed observations of discourse, face and demeanour, and quantitative analysis of systematically observed conferences, in order to improve the capacity of facilitators and practitioners to produce successful outcomes.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'In the Dock: The Placement of the Accused at Court and the Right to a Fair Trial' LSE Law - Policy Briefing Paper No. 18 (2016)

The UK Government has recently launched an ambitious reform of the court estate across England and Wales, including the closure of 86 courts and significant investment in new technologies. The time is right to rethink how courts of the future should look, with an emphasis on flexibility of space and the use of technology. A longstanding architectural feature of criminal courts is the dock, where the accused is held during a trial. In recent years, this has evolved to include a fully-glassed in box, or in some countries, metal cages. The continued use of docks may undermine the rights of the accused, including the right to participate in one’s trial, the right to be presumed innocent, and the right to be treated in a dignified manner. I present the results of an experiment testing whether the placement of the accused in a dock can impact on mock- jurors assessment of guilt. Jurors were more likely to return a guilty verdict when the accused was in a dock, compared to sitting at the bar table with counsel, independent of the evidence against him. If the government is serious about creating fairer and more effective courts of the future, then they need discontinue the use of docks in criminal trials.

(with Jasmine Bruce) 'Community Participation in Restorative Justice: Rituals, Reintegration, and Quasi-Professionalization' Victims & Offenders: An International Journal of Evidence-based Research, Policy, and Practice (2016)

Community has long been identified as the key third party in restorative justice processes. However, when it comes to both theorizing community in restorative justice and the actual practice of community participation, conceptual clarity is lacking. A careful reading of the sociological literature on restorative justice and community point to two main reasons why we want to encourage community participation: the creation of effective ritual and offender reintegration. In this paper, we present findings from an empirical study of conferencing. We explore varieties of community participation and discuss the benefits and tensions that arise when community participation becomes a formalized element of a mainstream restorative justice practice.

(with Lawrence W. Sherman , Heather Strang, Geoffrey Barnes, Daniel J. Woods, Sarah Bennett, Nova Inkpen, Dorothy Newbury-Birch, Caroline Angel, Malcolm Mearns, Molly Slothowe) 'Twelve experiments in restorative justice: the Jerry Lee program of randomized trials of restorative justice conferences' Journal of Experimental Criminology (2015) pp.1-40

We conducted and measured outcomes from the Jerry Lee Program of 12 randomized trials over two decades in Australia and the United Kingdom (UK), testing an identical method of restorative justice taught by the same trainers to hundreds of police officers and others who delivered it to 2231 offenders and 1179 victims in 1995–2004. The article provides a review of the scientific progress and policy effects of the program, as described in 75 publications and papers arising from it, including previously unpublished results of our ongoing analyses.

(with Laura W. McDonald, David Tait, Karen Gelb, Blake M. McKimmie) (2015) 'Digital evidence in the jury room: the impact of mobile technology on the jury' Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 27 (2). ISSN 1034-5329

Emotions, rituals and restorative justice. ECAN bulletin (25). pp. 15-19.

'Students vs. Jurors: Responding to Enhanced Video Technology'  Laws 2014, 3(3), 618-635 

'Emotions in Ritual Theories' Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions: Volume II, Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research 2014, pp 199-220

Rossner, M, Bruce, J. and Meher, M. (2013). Understanding the Process of Restorative Justice: Research on Forum Sentencing. New South Wales Department Attorney General and Justice and University of Western Sydney

'Restorative Justice, Emotions, and Adults' in Bolitho, J., Bruce, J., and Mason, G. (eds) Restorative Justice and Adult Offending. Sydney: University of Sydney Institute of Criminology Monograph Series (2012)

Rossner, M. and Tait, D. ‘Contested Emotions: Adversarial Rituals in Non adversarial Justice Procedures.’ Monash University Law Review (2011) 37(1) pp.241-258

‘Emotions and Interaction Ritual: A Micro-Analysis of Restorative Justice.’ British Journal of Criminology (2011) 51 pp.95-119

Restorative justice has long been touted as an effective and popular alternative to mainstream justice. While most research on the subject measures outcomes and satisfaction after the event, this study uses a video recording of a restorative justice conference to analyse at the micro level the emotional and interactional dynamics at work in transforming an initial situation of anger and anxiety into one marked by displays of solidarity between victim and offender. It develops Collins’ theory of interaction ritual chains to code the gradual emergence of a successful interaction by analysis of facial expressions, verbal cues, gestures and interactional dynamics.

‘Reintegrative Ritual: Restorative Justice and Micro-Sociology’ in Strang, H., Karstedt, S., and Loader, I. (eds), Emotions, Crime, and Justice. Onati International Series on Law and Society (Oxford, UK: Hart Publications, 2011)

Delahunty, J., Rossner, M. & Tait D.  ‘Simulation and dissimulation in jury research: Credibility in a live mock trial,’ in Bartels, L. and Richards, K. (eds), Qualitative Criminology: Stories from the Field (Sydney: Federation Press, 2010)

'Healing Victims and Offenders and Reducing Crime: A Critical Assessment of Restorative Justice Practice and Theory' Sociology Compass (2008) 2 (6) pp.1734-1749

The current article explores the growing restorative justice movement. It examines promising research indicating that face-to-face dialogue with crime victims and offenders may work to restore and heal participants, and reduce recidivism. In addition, the article assesses the current state of restorative justice theory, suggesting new avenues for future theory and research. I show how current thinking about restorative justice can benefit from a micro-sociological reframing, focusing on the production of collective emotion and micro-dynamics of interaction.

Sherman, L., Strang, H., Woods, D., Rossner, M., Angel, C., Barnes, G., Bennett, S., and Inkpen, N., 'Effects of Face to Face Restorative Justice on Victims of Crime in Four Randomized, Controlled Trials' Journal of Experimental Criminology (2005) 1 pp.367-395

The growing use of restorative justice provides a major opportunity for experimental criminology and evidence-based policy. Face-to-face meetings led by police officers between crime victims and their offenders are predicted to reduce the harm to victims caused by the crime. This prediction is derived not only from the social movement for restorative justice, but also from the microsociology of interaction rituals (Collins, 2004). Four randomized, controlled trials of this hypothesis in London and Canberra, with point estimates disaggregated by gender, tested the prediction with measures of both successful interaction ritual (apologies received and their perceived sincerity) and the hypothesized benefits of the ritual (on forgiveness of, and reduced desire for violent revenge against, offenders, and victim self-blame for the crime). The meta-analyses of the eight point estimates suggest success (as victims define it) of restorative justice as an interaction ritual, and as a policy for reducing harm to victims.