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International study finds crime levels cut after offenders meet victims

February 15, 2014

The ANU’s John Braithwaite helped introduce restorative justice conferences to ACT courts during the 1990s.

The sessions involve victims and their criminals agreeing to meet with family or friends present, along with police or other trained moderators to discuss the impact of the crime.

He says the latest international study has found victims of crime also reported greater satisfaction with the outcomes from the confronting face-to-face sessions.

“Because crime hurts, justice should heal,” Professor Braithwaite said.

“When a real victim of serious crime is in the room, it can have a big effect on re-offending.

“Now we have results from studies of the highest quality around the world to show that it works.”

An international review of Restorative Justice Conferences led by Dr Heather Strang and Professor Lawrence Sherman of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge has examined studies across three continents, including Australia.

A total of 1,879 offenders were tracked over two years, and interviews were held with 734 victims.

In the UK the review found repeat convictions were down by 27 per cent in the two years following a meeting with victims.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell says the research shows the importance of the ACT program in tackling crime in the territory.

“This review reports clear and compelling evidence of a beneficial relationship between restorative justice conferences and subsequent reoffending over a two year period,” he said.

“Nine out of 10 results showed restorative justice conferences were more effective than court alone.”

Since the scheme began in 2005, the ACT Restorative Justice Unit has convened 623 face-to-face conferences and 377 indirect conferences involving 1,324 victims, 307 victim supporters, 1,244 young offenders and 1,344 young offender supporters.

Read the full article.


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