Victims to have greater say on Restorative Justice

Published: Mon 8 Dec 2014 10:35 AM
Victims to have greater say on Restorative Justice
Press Release: Restorative Justice Aotearoa
Restorative Justice Aotearoa welcomes the implementation of the changes to the Sentencing Act that will be implemented throughout all District Courts from today.
Restorative Justice Aotearoa says that changes to the Sentencing Act, which come into effect on 6 December, are a step in the right direction to addressing the harm caused by offending.
The changes to the Sentencing Act, introduced by the Victim of Crimes Reform Bill, are intended to make restorative justice services more accessible in the District Court.
The General Manager for Restorative Justice Aotearoa, Mike Hinton, says the change from an ‘opt in’ to an ‘opt out’ arrangement shows that there is greater acceptance about the role that restorative justice plays in providing the victim with a voice within the criminal justice system.
“Research in New Zealand and from overseas clearly shows that participation in restorative justice has benefits for victims of crime. A 2011 survey run by the Ministry of Justice showed that 82% of victims were satisfied after attending a RJ conference and 80% said they would be likely to recommend RJ to others in a similar position”.
The changes to the Sentencing Act mean that all cases will be referred to a restorative justice provider in situations where there is a victim, the offender pleads guilty, there is a service that is able to be accessed and there has been no previous restorative justice process held in relation to that offending. The restorative justice provider determines whether a restorative justice process is suitable in the circumstances, having regard to the wishes of the victim.
Mike Hinton says that the changes emphasise the importance of victims in the process and giving them a greater say on whether they wish to participate in a restorative justice process or not.
Although the consent of victims and offenders has always been required, the previous process meant that some victims have not been provided with the opportunity to participate in a restorative justice process. These changes address this gap and provide opportunity for all victims to participate.
The changes to the legislation recognise the importance of the victim in the process. Restorative justice facilitators have all been trained to facilitate conferences in a supportive and safe environment for all participants. Members of RJA have been contracted to the Ministry of Justice to deliver restorative justice services in all the District Courts.

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