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Proponents of restorative justice have suggested that its practices have the potential to reduce reoffending by those responsible for a harm. This article examines these claims using the results of two separate studies of the reconviction of offenders dealt with by processes that had restorative characteristics. The first study examines reconviction rates over'a'period'of'six years for a sample of young people who took part in family group conferences. The second study examines outcomes for samples of 100 offenders involved in each of two different community panel pre-trial diversion schemes for adults. One scheme involved offenders and victims meeting together with community panel members to determine outcomes that would repair harm to the victim and contribute to preventing reoffending. The second scheme involved Maori offenders meeting with representatives of their tribe in a setting with spiritual meaning for Maori. Those participating in both the community panel schemes were less likely to reoffend than matched samples of others who had committed similar offenses. There were also economic savings to the criminal justice system when offenders were dealt with by the panels compared to those dealt with by traditional methods. Taken together, these projects indicate that restorative processes and practices can have a positive impact on helping people to avoid reoffending.
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Keywords: Community panels; Crime prevention; Juvenile justice; Recidivism; Reoffending; Restorative justice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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