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Restorative Justice Needs Review: Victim Support

17 April 2008


MEDIA RELEASE

Restorative Justice Needs Review: Victim Support

Restorative justice procedures are tipped in favour of the offender and require urgent review to avoid harming victims, says Victim Support.

Acting chief executive Heather Verry said that crime victims could be revictimised because the current processes often centred on offenders rather than victims.

Victim Support is lobbying the Government to revise victim-offender restorative justice processes to achieve an equal balance between support for offenders and victims.

The organisation is calling for the criminal justice system to adopt a “parallel justice” approach, which provides a separate path for victims in the criminal justice system alongside that of offenders. Mrs Verry said a parallel justice model of restorative justice would include improving information about the process for victims; offering victim-offender meetings throughout the entire criminal justice process, not just before sentencing; and providing a support plan for the victim alongside the rehabilitation plan for the offender.

“We often hear about victims hoping the criminal justice system will provide closure for them.

But for some, the system can prolong their grieving and sense of injustice,” she said. “Restorative justice has great potential to work for victims and does in some cases. But at present, the success of court-referred restorative justice is limited by what the offender can provide and it fits within the court timeframe, without allowances for a victim’s needs,” said Mrs Verry. “We often hear of cases where the victim is not ready to meet with the offender at that stage, but may want to do so later.”

“We’re not interested in limiting the rights of offenders, but we do need to improve the rights of victims.”

The Commitment to Parallel Justice document can be found on our website

www.victimsupport.org.nz

ENDS

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