LINKS TO KEY EVALUATIONS
The evaluation of restorative justice and restorative practices has extended beyond qualitative evaluation of individual cases to quantitative evaluation of programs. The largest single evaluation of restorative justice to date has been undertaken by Professors Heather Strang and Lawrence Sherman. Both were involved in pioneering evaluations of restorative justice in the Australian Capital Territory, and then across the United Kingdom. Their Campbell Collaboration meta-study Restorative Justice Conferencing (RJC) Using Face-to-Face Meetings of Offenders and Victims: Effects on Offender Recidivism and Victim Satisfaction. A Systematic Review was published in late 2013. It reported the results of ten comparable experiments. Each experiment reported post-treatment data of repeat crime two years after cases were randomly assigned to either Restorative Justice Conferencing [RJC] or to more traditional criminal justice processing. Strang and Sherman found that:
“the evidence of a relationship between conferencing and subsequent convictions or arrests over two years […] is clear and compelling, with nine out of 10 results in the predicted direction… The impact of RJCs on 2-year convictions was reported to be cost-effective in the 7 UK experiments, with up to 14 times as much benefit in costs of the crimes prevented (in London), and 8 times overall, as the cost of delivering RJCs. The effect of conferencing on victims’ satisfaction with the handling of their cases is uniformly positive…”
Strang and Sherman concluded that:
“RJCs delivered in the manner tested by the ten eligible tests appear likely to reduce future detected crimes among the kinds of offenders who are willing to consent to RJCs, and whose victims are also willing to consent […] Among the kinds of cases in which both offenders and victims are willing to meet, RJCs seem likely to reduce future crime. Victims’ satisfaction with the handling of their cases is consistently higher for victims assigned to RJCs than for victims whose cases were assigned to normal criminal justice processing.” [emphasis added]
Other recent studies, reviews, reports and recommendations outline what restorative responses may be most appropriate in the justice system, &/or how these processes are currently used to address certain cases of institutional abuse, sexual abuse and family violence. For example, reports from the Australian Institute of Criminology analyse criminal justice system responses to family violence in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These reports conclude that therapeutic jurisprudence and restorative justice may help improve the experience of the criminal justice process for both victims and offenders. A March 2016 report for the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse assessed empirical evidence from restorative justice programs nationally and internationally, and concluded that restorative justice can be used to good effect in response to cases of sexual abuse. The report outlines the particular conditions required for therapeutic outcomes to be achieved. The research findings of a UK study on both survivors and non-survivors of sexual violence outlined the positive attitudes expressed towards the use of restorative justice in these cases. The Australian Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, which operated from 2013 to 2016, provided a restorative engagement conference in over six hundred cases, many of which involved sexual offending. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment in Victoria Police recommended a Redress Scheme that is victim-centric, provides case management, and processes to address the harm caused by abuse. That program is now being delivered.
Jacqueline Joudo Larsen’s 2014 AIC report on Restorative justice in the Australian criminal justice system recommended that “future research would benefit by extending the focus from asking ‘does it work?’, to considering how, when and for whom it works best in order to contribute to the growing evidence that seeks to provide a more nuanced understanding of the circumstances under which restorative justice is most effective.”
VARJ Newsletter August 2014
VARJ Newsletter December 2014
VARJ Newsletter Spring-Summer 2016
VARJ Newsletter Winter-Spring 2017
VARJ Newsletter Winter 2018
The Australian Association for Restorative Justice distributed its first Review of Current Practice to members in mid-2020.