Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
27 June 2005
Study finds victims benefit from restorative justice
Most victims who took part in court-referred restorative justice benefited from the process, according to an evaluation released today by Justice Minister Phil Goff.
Court-referred restorative justice conferences were piloted in District Courts in Waitakere, Auckland, Hamilton and Dunedin. The evaluation covered cases between February 2002 and February 2003.
Mr Goff said restorative justice brought victims and offenders together in a form of mediation that allowed the victim to confront the offender, explain the impact the offending has had on them, and to participate in deciding what an appropriate penalty would be.
"The evaluation found that 92 per cent of victims who had taken part in a restorative justice conference were pleased they had done so. Most said that their offender understood how they felt, had been made accountable, and had shown the victim that they were sorry for the offending," Mr Goff said.
"This matches similar high levels of satisfaction expressed by victims who took part in an evaluation of community-managed restorative justice programmes in Wanganui and Rotorua, which was published earlier this year.
"More than a third of victims in the District Court pilot felt more positively about the criminal justice system as a result of participating in a restorative justice conference, and most would recommend the process to others.
"Preliminary results in the evaluation also show a small, but statistically significant, reduction in re-offending rates for offenders that took part in a restorative justice conference (32 per cent, compared to 36 per cent). These results, which measured re-offending a year after the conference, will be followed up with a further study of re-offending at two years, which should be available later this year.
“This evaluation will be of interest in New Zealand and internationally. New Zealand is seen as a world leader in the use of restorative justice and this evaluation is a significant contribution to the body of knowledge in this area.
"It will also provide a basis for improving current programmes, and will help inform future developments.
"Last year the government launched a best practise guide for restorative justice conferences, supported by funding of $4 million for best practise workshops and to assist restorative justice providers to make improvements in their practise where necessary. This evaluation, and others, will provide valuable information to assist with that work.
"The government is committed to improving and promoting restorative justice as a way of helping victims of crime. However any expansion of it needs to be gradual and deliberate, and in line with the positive outcomes it is able to achieve," Mr Goff said.
The report ‘New Zealand Court-Referred Restorative Justice Pilot: Evaluation’ is available online at www.justice.govt.nz