Source: (2011) Current Issues in Criminal Justice. 23(2): 127-143.

Over the past two decades, research has produced inconsistent results regarding the crime prevention potential of restorative justice conferencing for young offenders. Some comparative research has suggested that restorative justice conferencing reduces reoffending compared with other youth justice processes (Strang et al 1999). Other quantitative research has examined the circumstances under which conferencing reduces crime and has found that offender characteristics, conference features and post-conference life experiences are important in explaining reoffending after a conference (Hayes and Daly 2003). Drawing upon observation and interview data obtained from a sample of 25 young offenders who attended conferences in south-east Queensland, the study reported in this article explored how experiences in conferences relate to post-intervention offending behaviour. The results of the study suggest that young people in the sample who continued (n=9) or stopped offending (n=16) one year after their conference, had positive experiences in telling their story, meeting their victims and hearing their victim's stories in conferences. However, there were some key differences. Some young people who continued offending were disappointed when victims did not attend or perceived victims as being hostile towards them. In contrast, some young people who stopped offending viewed their conference experience as an event that helped them avoid future offending because the conference highlighted the consequences of their offending for victims. These results suggest that while, on balance, conference processes are judged positively, there are important interactional features that can bear negatively on postintervention offending. (authors' abstract)