Source: (2001) Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. 40(1):55-69.

This article describes two New Zealand pilot programs (Project Turnaround and Te Whanau Awhina) that used community panel meetings to decide on diversionary plans for adult offenders. Although sharing some restorative and diversionary features, the two projects differed in important respects. Compared with offenders referred to Project Turnaround, those referred to Te Whanau Awhina were all Maori, they were committing more serious offenses, were more likely to have been given severe penalties had they been formally processed, and had a greater chance of reconviction. The process itself was also different in important respects at the two sites. At Project Turnaround there was more involvement of victims in the process and a greater emphasis on rehabilitative outcomes. At Te Whanau Awhina, there was a stronger focus on the relationship between the offenders and their whanau (extended family) and the wider Maori community, as well as a greater emphasis on measures to assist reintegration. Te Whanau Awhina also provided programs and activities relevant to the Maori culture, which played a part in reintegration. Despite differences in the two projects, both resulted in fewer reconvictions and less serious reconvictions compared to matched control groups, and both projects achieved financial savings compared to conventional court processes and correctional outcomes.