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Explaining continuity and changes in offending behavior after a restorative justice conference.

Hayes, Hennessey
June 4, 2015

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)


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