Restorative justice conferences impact reoffending rates - research
Offenders who take part in restorative justice conferences appear to reoffend at a lower rate than those who do not, according to research released today by the Ministry of Justice.
The research is contained in the report; ‘New Zealand Court-Referred Restorative Justice Pilot: Two year follow–up of reoffending’, which found that there was a small difference in reconviction rates between those who had attended a restorative justice conference compared to groups of offenders who had not experienced a conference. While the difference was not statistically significant, the decrease appeared to be real.
The Ministry of Justice has operated a pilot programme of court referred restorative justice in the Auckland, Waitakere, Hamilton and Dunedin District Courts since September 2001.
The research released today is the final stage in a substantial evaluation of the effectiveness of this model of restorative justice, in three key areas:
Increasing the involvement of victims in the criminal justice process
Increasing victim satisfaction with the criminal justice system , and
The main evaluation showed that the needs of victims were being met through the restorative justice process used in the pilot. The majority of victims, 87%, who participated in a restorative justice conference reported a positive experience and 68% said they would attend one again.
The restorative justice process is voluntary and a restorative justice conference or meeting is held only if both the victim and offender agree to participate. Conferences are convened by restorative justice facilitators from provider groups contracted by the Ministry of Justice. The Sentencing Act 2002 requires the outcomes of any restorative justice process to be taken into account in sentencing.
The report is available on the Ministry of Justice website: www.justice.govt.nz where it can be found in the recent news and updates section.