As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, serious concerns exist with regards to use of restorative justice to address violent criminal offenses. Of the few restorative justice programs in existence across the U.S, the majority target juvenile offenders who have committed low-level, non-violent property crimes. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency which has implemented a restorative juvenile diversion program throughout Almeda County in Oakland, CA is one notable example.
In New Zealand however, where the use of RJ throughout the criminal justice system is widespread, new research has challenged the notion that RJ would be ineffective in addressing the harms caused by more serious crimes. In fact, the study claims that RJ may actually be more effective in helping victims heal and in reducing rates of reoffending in cases where the criminal offense is more serious in nature.
Highlights of this new research includes the following as reported by New Zealand’s Scoop Independent News:
Restorative Justice conferencing is more effective in cases of serious crime, particularly cases of violence, than in cases of property theft, or minor incidents. Overall, restorative justice conferencing, reduces reoffending by about 20%, with around 90% of victims registering satisfaction with the process, and indicating that it has helped them in the healing process.
A 2007 UK Ministry of Justice research concluded that there was a 27% drop in reoffending by those who experienced restorative justice across a wide range of offences from less serious juvenile crime through to adult robbery and serious assault, compared with those who took part in the usual criminal justice process.
A 2011 New Zealand research showed a 20% reduction in reoffending, and long term fiscal benefits arising out of 1,500 conferences of $7.6m for the public sector, and $9.9m for the private sector.
Read the full story here