....Rigorous data verification, statistical modelling and matching processes were used. Conferenced offenders were compared with:

  • offenders referred for restorative justice but who did not receive a restorative justice conference as the victim declined or the case was otherwise considered unsuitable (non-conferenced);
  • other offenders meeting the restorative justice eligibility criteria who were not referred (other eligible); and
  • a matched comparison group of offenders (a sub-set of the other eligible offenders, selected to match the demographic and offending characteristics of those who completed a restorative justice conference).

....Restorative justice shows promise in reducing reoffending that leads to imprisonment, however, the results from this study are not statistically significant. This is partly explained by the small numbers of offenders in this analysis that were imprisoned within 12 and 24 months. For the 2009 cohort, after 12 months, offenders who had been through a restorative justice conference were 33 percent less likely to be imprisoned for subsequent offending than comparable offenders (5.2 percent compared to 7.8 percent).

For the 2008 cohort, after 12 months, the subsequent imprisonment rate for conferenced offenders was 18 percent lower than that of the matched comparison group (8.7 percent compared to 10.6 percent). After 24 months, the subsequent imprisonment rate for conferenced offenders was 29 percent lower than that of the matched comparison group (11.1 percent compared to 15.6 percent).

The results taken from this study and the 2005 study (which found a reduction in subsequent imprisonment of between 15 and 20 percent, though, not statistically significant), taken together, suggest a real reduction in imprisonment rates.

Read the summary and the whole study.