Better Outcomes through Victim-Offender Conferencing (Restorative Justice)
Key points for better outcomes:
1. The term ‘Restorative Justice’ covers a range of approaches, but evidence suggests that models which deliver face to face victim-offender conferencing, often with supporters present, are most likely to bring the desired outcomes of increased victim satisfaction and reduced reconviction.
Conceptualising and contextualising restorative justice for hate crimes
Restorative justice (hereafter RJ) was (re) introduced to debates about justice in the 1970s at the start of a large volume of academic and policy-orientated discussions on its potential. Braithwaite, Christie, Sullivan and Zehr spoke about the transformative potential of the RJ paradigm and its ‘changing lenses’ on how we view crime. Barnett spoke first about a ‘paradigm shift’, claiming that we are living a “crisis of an old paradigm,” and that “this crisis can be restored by the adoption of a new paradigm of criminal justice”.
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.
Scheme 'cuts youth reoffending'
from the article in the Independent:
Youth reoffending levels dropped dramatically when alternatives to prison were used in Northern Ireland, MPs have been told.
Two-thirds of those released from custody committed further offences within a year, compared with under a third receiving a form of restorative justice sanction known as youth conferencing, Youth Justice Agency (YJA) figures showed.
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.
Justice denied: Our worst retreat since Dunkirk
In my Mail on Sunday column last Sunday (11th November) I promised a fuller account of the scandalous downgrading of serious crime by the authorities in England and Wales ( I have not made a similar analysis of Scotland, which has its own separate legal system, but suspect something similar will be under way there). What was most distressing was to receive several personal confirmations of police uninterest in pursuing quite serious matters. The use of so-called ‘restorative justice’ to negotiate a supposed reconciliation between criminal (or in value-free jargon ’offender’) and victim is a growing part of this array of devices to reduce pressure on prisons, massage crime figures downwards and give the illusion of action.
Here is what I have found.
An outcome evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative
To evaluate the effectiveness of the InnerChange program for male inmates at MCFLino Lakes, the DOC examined recidivism outcomes among 732 offenders released from prison between 2003 and 2009. There were 366 offenders who participated in InnerChange, had their recidivism risk assessed, and had been released from prison during the 2003-2009 period. Offenders whose recidivism risk had been assessed and had been released during the 2003-2009 period, but did not participate in InnerChange, were matched to those in the InnerChange group on commonly-known risk factors.
Multivariate statistical analyses were performed to further control for other factors besides InnerChange participation that may have had an impact on recidivism. These measures were used to ensure that any observed differences in recidivism between the 366 InnerChange participants and the 366 offenders in the comparison group were due strictly to participation in InnerChange.
Criminal, victim meetings 'don't stop recidivism'
....The New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics has analysed a program that brings young offenders face-to-face with victims of crime.
It says it makes no difference to the rate at which they go on to commit more crimes.
Review: Restorative justice in practice: Evaluating what works for victims and offenders.
by Eric Assur
Three British criminology researchers and educators, affiliated with the University of Sheffield, have offered a very rich book on the use of victim-offender mediation programs (what they call schemes) in adult criminal justice venues in England.
Most early Restorative Justice (RJ) writing has focused on juvenile justice programs, generally with a concentration on diversionary approaches for first time offenders. The Shapland, Robinson and Sorsby book looks exclusively and intensely at three ‘schemes’ and several hundred ‘cases’ involving adults. The criminal justice programs they studied were funded by the British Ministry of Justice – Home Office between 2001 and 2008. They worked with adults at arrest, while going through the courts and even with some while imprisoned.