Source: (2013) Paper presented at Australasian Youth Justice Conference—Changing trajectories of offending and reoffending. National Convention Centre Canberra 20-22 May 2013.

Rehabilitation is the overriding need to address in response to juvenile criminal wrongdoing. It overshadows the other primary needs of retribution and restoration. Much has been written about the capacity of diversionary programs to restore those affected by wrongdoing, including juvenile offenders and juvenile victims. But little regard has been given to the capacity of restorative practices to also promote rehabilitation. This paper argues that restorative processes (such as conferencing, circles and restorative panels) can address many of the consequential aims of responses to criminal wrongdoing such as deterrence, rehabilitation and protection. It argues the need for deterrence can more directly be met through censure from those affected by the wrongdoing and by negotiated and agreed changes and restrictions to behaviour. Similarly, greater community safety can be more effectively assured through contextual crime prevention. Most relevantly the need for rehabilitation can be better met through tailored, selective and voluntarily agreed participation in treatment and education programs. The paper reports on original work in Australia with restorative programs and also examines the latest evidence as to the efficacy of restorative juvenile programs in the EU, in particular programs in Northern Ireland and Norway. The paper argues that the ‘rehabilitative scope’ of conferencing is undervalued and suggests a strategy for addressing this.(author's abstract)

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