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Benefits of Restorative Justice

Costa Rica STP.jpgIn a recent study, two criminologists collected all the available research concerning restorative justice and identified those reports that had compared people going through restorative justice approaches to those who were dealt with by the conventional criminal justice. They looked for well-designed research that had adjusted for other differences between the two groups that might have influenced the outcome. There were 36 such evaluations.

Their findings were that the restorative justice programmes had, in at least two tests each:

  • substantially reduced repeat offending for some offenders, but not all;

  • doubled (or more) the offences brought to justice as diversion from the criminal justice system;

  • reduced crime victims’ post-traumatic stress symptoms and related costs;

  • provided both victims and offenders with more satisfaction with justice than the criminal justice system;

  • reduced crime victims’ desire for violent revenge against their offenders;

  • reduced the costs of criminal justice, when used as diversion from the criminal justice system;

  • reduced recidivism more than prison (adults) or as well as prison (youths).

In other words, a government that wants to:

  • substantially reduce repeat offending of some of its offenders

  • double the number of cases that are brought to conclusion

  • reduce the post-traumatic stress of its victims

  • reduce victims' desire for violent revenge

  • reduce criminal justice costs

  • increase satisfaction of victims and offenders

  • while reducing recidivism at least as well and sometimes better than prisons

should take a hard look at integrating well-designed restorative justice programmes into their justice systems. For suggestions on how this might be done, visit the Legislative Assembly and the RJ Office on www.restorativejustice.org.

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