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Restorative Justice Conferences Reduce Costs of Crime

Restorative Justice Conferences Reduce Costs of Crime


“At a time when the government is looking for ways to reduce crime and the cost of rehabilitation, restorative justice conference has come up trumps”, says Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

“A recent Ministry of Justice report showed that restorative justice conferences reduced reoffending by 20%. A new report, based on an average reduction in reoffending of only 10%, (rather than 20%) estimates that 1,500 restorative justice conferences would generate $5,100 per conference of public sector benefits, - based on the potential reduction in criminal activity. The Police would need to make fewer arrests, Corrections would have fewer prisoners, and ACC would have fewer claims for injuries caused by crime.”

“The benefit to the private sector is even higher. The reduction in the current costs of crime experienced by victims, households and businesses, such as loss and damage to property, insurance and security, is calculated at $6,600.

“The potential long term benefits arising out of 1,500 conferences would be $7.6m for the public sector, and $9.9m for the private sector. The savings are substantial when compared with the average cost to the Ministry of between $800 and $1,400 per conference.”

“In 2010 – 11, the Ministry of Justice spent $1.77m on 1,477 conferences in 2010-11. Clearly, further expansion of restorative justice services, both pre and post sentence, would generate a significant savings, which could then be re-invested in addressing the drivers of crime.”

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“We urge the government to conduct further cost-effective studies of this kind. For example, overseas research shows that community based drug treatment is far more effective, and less costly to run, that prison based drug treatment. At present, there is a serious imbalance between Ministry of Health reduced funding of community based drug treatment, and Corrections increased spending on prison based treatment.

While the Department of Corrections must be commended for its commitment to prison rehabilitation, the referral of offenders with drug and alcohol dependency to community based services, costs less, and produces a lower rate of reoffending. We need a study that quantifies the savings, and identifies the legislative and administrative changes necessary to direct funding where it can make the biggest impact.”

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