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RESTORATIVE PRACTICES AND THE SOCIAL RE-INTEGRATION OF OFFENDERS IN THE U.K Vicki Smith Restorative Justice Worker Oxfordshire Youth Offending Service
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE Restorative Justice is a process whereby parties with a stake in a specific offence collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future. (Marshall, 1999)
Restorative Justice and Young Offenders • The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 introduced the Referral Order • 10-17 year olds pleading guilty and convicted for the first time. • Referral to a youth offender panel (YOP). • Governed by the principles of “restoration, reintegration and responsibility” (Home Office, 1997). • Between 3-12 months • Panels consist of one YOT member and (at least) two community panel members-to engage local communities in dealing with young offenders. • Other people may be invited to attend panel meetings (any participation is strictly voluntary). • Surrogate victims
In practice continued... • Contract • Where victim chooses to attend, restorative process • Agreement reached • The YOT is responsible for monitoring the contract • Regular panel reviews • Vary terms of contract/breach • On completion, conviction will be considered “spent” for the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Stats/numbers • Participant Satisfaction: For both victims and offenders satisfaction is consistently high ranging from 73-90%. Fairness in mediation and conferencing processes is also consistently high - ranging from 75-95% (Umbreit,Vos & Coates,2006). • Re-offending: The RJC has reported on 41 studies where RJ has been proven to reduce re-offending. One meta-analysis looked at 14 studies with over 9,000 juveniles and indicated that participation in Victim-Offender Mediation had lead to 26% reduction in reoffending. When the VOM youth did re-offend, they often committed less serious offences (Nugent, Williams & Umbreit, 2003; RJC, 2006). • Statistics from the Ministry of Defence on juvenile re-offending rates for 2006 cohort indicated that over a one year period- reoffending rates were 43% for Referral Orders compared to 55% for Fines; 62% for Action Plan Orders, 77% for Custody.
The Future: Referral Order • Revised National Standards • Increased focus of YOT resources directed at the highest reoffending risk cases • Require that YOTs have a range of restorative processes for victim participation • Revised Key Elements of Effective Practice – Restorative Justice - prioritise face-to-face restorative justice cases where there are direct, personal victims and the victim and offender are both willing - in preparation for restorative justice processes, victims and offenders should have the opportunity to meet with a restorative justice worker - restorative justice processes should be arranged in consultation with victims, taking into account their convenience - the views, experience and satisfaction of victims should be regularly monitored.
Adult RJ • Thames Valley Probation Service (part of the National Probation Service in UK) have taken part in RJ with adults which has shown that it can:> reduce the rate of re-offending> improve the satisfaction of victims> be cost effective> and build confidence in the CJ system • The research also showed that RJ can work with adults and more serious offenders for violent offences and for burglary, including those serving substantial prison sentences. • Whilst RJ in the UK is built into the Youth Justice System, this is not the case for adults, however, Thames Valley Probation are pioneering the use of RJ as part of a Community Sentence in the adult courts. • Shapland et al (2008): research results
The TV Evidence overall • Community trial – 55% reduction in rate of re-offending. • Prison trial – 33% reduction in rate of re-offending. • Statistically significant reduction in reconvictions over 2yrs over all JRC trials taken together. • ¾ of victims and offenders would recommend process to others – valued asking questions and being able to put their view. • Majority of victims had found closure.
What makes a difference?Re-offending • Whether the offender wanted to meet the victim. • How the offender experienced the conference. • Extent to which offender felt the conf had made them realise harm done. • Extent to which offender seen to be taking active part in conf. • How useful offender felt conf had been.
What makes a difference 2Re-offending • Offenders value useful elements in outcome agreements – make elements future orientated. • Extent to which outcome agreement completed by offender. • Community conferences more successful than prison.
What doesn’t make a difference in terms of re-offending? • Gender, ethnicity, age, burglary v violence, pre v post-sentence. • Victims’ views of the conference. • Whether victim and offender knew each other. • Whether victim accepted apology. • Whether victim thought offender was sincere. • Outcome agreements (OAs) containing: apology, promises to stay out of trouble, pay compensation, letters of progress to victims, victim contact.
Why do conferences work for offenders? – theory supported by evidence • The process of meeting itself. • Appear to have value in promoting desistance among those adult offenders who have decided to stop offending by: • Increase motivation to desist. • Impact of what victims and supporters say. • Provide a framework/plan (outcome agreement) for putting good intentions into practice. • Provide support from others to help tackle problems related to offending.
What makes conferences / process work for victims? • The process of meeting itself. • Both sides able to present views and ask questions. • Safe process. • Facilitators allow process and not be too dominant. • Satisfaction levels higher for more serious offences. • Victims value apologies. • Leads to less feelings of retaliation.
Victim dissatisfaction • Only six cases for whole of JRC • Related to: • Unresolved and significant dispute over facts of offence. • Offender does not take responsibility, makes light, would not apologise, or blames victim. • Facilitators too dominant. • Facilitator did not intervene when too heated, or one side dominated.
Victim dissatisfaction - lessons • Balance between dominance and intervention. • Abandon where participants are inebriated • Guard against attempts to manipulate process. • Be open where reports are to be produced. • Do what you say you are going to do – follow through in relation to Oas.
?? Restorative Justice saves the criminal justice system up to £8 for every £1 spent delivering the Restorative Justice service-Even the most expensive RJ conferences—those for serious crimes—cost only £800, compared with the £35,000 a year that we pay to keep someone in prison. It is time for us to stop endlessly studying and evaluating RJ and to use it much more widely in the areas where it has proven value?
Further Information • www.restorativejustice.org.uk • www.yjb.gov.uk • www.probation.homeoffice.gov.uk • http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/restorative-justice.htm • www.transformingconflict.org