Source: (2007) Sydney NSW:New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
This evaluation of a pilot community conferencing program for young-adult offenders (ages 18-24) in New South Wales (Australia) measured conference participants’ and key stakholders’ satisfaction with the program.The vast majority of victims, offenders, and their support persons who participated in this evaluation were satisfied with the various stages of their conferences, from the preconference preparation stage, through to the conference itself and the draft intervention plans developed by the participants. Most stakeholders (magistrates, senior and operational police, conference facilitators, and program management staff) believed that the conferencing program was effective in achieving its objectives of increasing offenders’ awareness of the consequences of their offenses for the victims and the community, encouraging offenders to take responsibility for their offenses, and meeting the needs of victims and the community. Some police officers believed, however, that the extent to which the offender was willing to cooperate determined whether or not these objectives were met. The pilot program was intended to target offenders who were likely to be facing imprisonment, which should have reduced the proportion of offenders sentenced to prison in the two pilot sites. This did not occur for either of the sites. Recommendations by stakeholders include a gradual expansion of the program across the State, clear articulation of program objectives, modification of eligibility criteria to include all adult offenders, clearer delineation of the police role in the conference process, and more consistent application by magistrates of the eligibility criteria. Participants’ satisfaction with the program was measured with a short, structured questionnaire completed at the end of each conference. Questionnaires were returned from 171 conferences held between September 12, 2005, and October 31, 2006. Interviews or focus groups were held with stakeholders. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov.
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