Restorative justice lowering reoffending rate

  • Amy Adams
Justice

An increasingly popular justice initiative that gives victims the opportunity to hold offenders to account is proving effective at reducing crime, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

Restorative justice conferences are face-to-face meetings where victims can tell offenders how the crime affected them, and where offenders can take personal responsibility for their actions. The process is run by trained facilitators and only takes place with the consent of both the victim and the offender.

“Greater use of restorative justice is one of the ways we’re lowering crime rates through reducing reoffending,” says Ms Adams.

Data from 2008 to 2013 shows reoffending rates for those who participated in the service within 12 months was 15 per cent lower than comparable offenders who did not participate.

Restorative justice was highly beneficial for young offenders aged 17 to 19 where reoffending rates were 17 per cent lower, and 30 per cent fewer offences were committed per offender.

“Based on these findings, it’s estimated the 1638 restorative justice conferences across all age groups held in the 2013/14 financial year led to 620 fewer offences being committed and 359 fewer offences being prosecuted over the following year,” says Ms Adams.

Figures for the 2015 calendar year show the number of cases referred for a restorative justice assessment tripled from around 4000 to just over 12,000, compared to 2014.

The increases follow a change to the Sentencing Act 2002 in December 2014, which requires courts to refer eligible cases for an assessment to see whether restorative justice is appropriate.

“While we expected the law change would increase opportunities for victims and offenders to participate in restorative justice, the proportion of people taking up the option has also increased.

“This suggests that victims, defendants and the courts are becoming more comfortable and accustomed to restorative justice,” says Ms Adams.

The analysis of reoffending data is available at http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/r/reoffending-analysis-for-rj-cases-2008-13