Oral language competence and restorative justice processes: Refining preparation and the measurement of conference outcomes
from the paper by Hennessey Hayes and Pamela Snow:
Restorative justice conferencing for young offenders is a legislated response to youth offending, which has been in place in all Australian states and territories for nearly two decades. Restorative justice conferences are meetings between young offenders, their victims and supporters to discuss the offence, its impact and what the young person can do to repair harms caused by the offending behaviour. There is now a substantial body of research that has examined the impact restorative justice processes have on participants (eg how young offenders and victims judge the process). Results are largely positive, showing that participants view restorative justice processes as fair and they are satisfied with outcomes. Given the highly conversational nature of restorative justice conferencing processes however, this paper reviews research on oral language competence and youth offending. It raises questions about the need to refine preparatory work with young offenders and victims, to better understand young offenders’ capacities to effectively communicate in conference processes. It suggests that improved preparation (where language impairments in young offenders are identified and addressed) will lead to better outcomes for young offenders and victims.
Addressing lateral violence in the workplace
From the report by John Thompson-Mills:
...Restorative Justice is now appearing in another form of conflict resolution, to address lateral violence in Aboriginal communities.
Lateral violence is a verbal form of bullying but it can occur in many forms from making faces and raising eyebrows to malicious gossip, shaming, backstabbing, broken confidences and social exclusion.
Seeing the Other Side
From the article on PFI.org:
Once so full of fear that she could not sleep or speak, Melissa now stood before a group of prisoners to read aloud a letter she wrote to the man whose crime tormented her for years. "What you did to me 14 years ago changed my life forever,” she read from her letter. She was recalling the day when a man held a gun to her head during a robbery at the bank where she worked in Queensland, Australia. While the robbery lasted only a short time, the ramifications from it continue to affect Melissa today. “I lost years of my life and years from my children’s life,” she lamented. “I prayed the world would stop. The world kept spinning, and while other lives thrived, mine stood still.”
Getting beyond “just” talk – making thinking visible in conferencing contexts
from the conference paper by Jane Douglas:
Community Conferencing was introduced in Tasmania following the proclamation of the Youth Justice Act 1997 in February 2000. After thirteen years of practice under substantially the same statutory authority, it is perhaps timely that community conference practice in Northern Tasmania is being reviewed. Thirteen years is a long time to be doing the same job, and whilst the job is necessarily done differently on a case by case basis, there is an emerging realisation that both the external process of referral and internal guidelines for preparation and conduct of a conference require appraisal. This realisation is also in the context of emerging complexity of young people who commit crime, in terms of their personal and social characteristics and the offences they are committing.
This paper does not seek to present an easy solution to these issues but rather outline recent thinking that has taken place in the Community Conference program in Northern Tasmania. Through operational experience, a practice direction is emerging that takes into account the various complexities that have become apparent, but that also requires support through review of policy and procedural standards currently implemented in Tasmanian Youth Justice Services.
Police use of court alternatives for young persons in New South Wales
Through the use of warnings, cautions and conferences instead of court proceedings, the [Young Offenders Act (YOA)] established procedures for dealing efficiently and directly with children who commit certain offences. Previously reported statistics suggested that diversionary options for young persons have not been used uniformly and equitably across the State. The purpose of the current study was to measure the level of variation across [NSW Police Force’s Local Area Commands (LACs)] in the proportion of young persons diverted from court, after adjusting for factors police must or can take into account when considering whether to deal with a young person via a caution or a conference.
Some sex offences are best dealt with out of the courts
from the article by Greg Barns in The Age:
....In the context of the royal commission into sexual abuse in institutions, it is timely to consider whether or not all cases that can be categorised as sex offences ought to be dealt with through the traditional court process. In particular, those cases that involve allegations of abuse but do not involve penetration or other forms of physical violence.
Evaluation of the Family Group Conferencing pilot program
from the report by Boxall, Morgan and Terer
The outcome evaluation provided some evidence that the FGC pilot program had delivered a number of positive short-term outcomes for the small number of families and professionals who were involved in the program. These outcomes included:
Evaluation of alternative dispute resolution initiatives in the care and protection jurisdiction of the NSW Children's Court
The post-conference surveys completed by parents and family members, legal representatives and Community Services Caseworkers and Managers Casework were analysed to determine participant satisfaction with the conference process and outcomes.
There was a high level of satisfaction among parents and family members with the conference process, particularly in terms of having an opportunity to tell their side of the story, other people listening to what they had to say and being treated fairly. A number of parents and family members who participated in a conference said that it was the first time they felt that they had been given an opportunity to speak directly to the other parties and to express their point of view.
Youth Justice Conferences versus Children’s Court: A comparison of cost-effectiveness
Aim: To compare the cost-effectiveness of Youth Justice Conferences (YJCs) to matters eligible for YJCs but dealt with in the Children’s Court.
Method: The costs for Police, Legal Aid, Children’s Court, Juvenile Justice YJC administration and Juvenile Justice administration of court orders were separately estimated using a combination of top-down and bottom-up costing methods.
These were combined with data from matched samples of young people who were to be dealt with by a YJC and young people who could have been dealt with by a YJC but instead were dealt with in the Children’s Court in 2007 in order to estimate average costs per person for each process.
Developing ethical identities in young offenders through restorative justice practice in Australia
It is clear that, at least on some occasions, young offenders perceive being coerced - whether directly or indirectly - into apologising to the victims. There are three conclusions that arise out of these observations.