Young offenders referred to the program that took part in restorative justice conferences were either less likely to reoffend, or less likely to reoffend as often when compared with offenders outside of the scheme.
The observational outcome evaluation was noted as “a rare opportunity to examine the impact of restorative justice conferencing on re-offending over an extended period,” extended its focus to victims of crime and support people, who alongside the young offenders, boasted a 98 per cent satisfaction rate as to the restorative justice process.
The restorative justice program, conducted by the Restorative Justice Unit, applies a victim-centric approach to the administration of justice.
Compared to an average young offender cohort, the restorative justice participants have been “more likely to be male, younger, to be charged with a violent or property offence, and to have more extensive prior criminal histories.”
As a consequence, participants are at a higher risk of reoffending on average. As a result, the analysis of outcomes for the study needed to be “sensitive to these differences.”
Using a multivariate model, the research found the proportion estimated to reoffend after 12 months was 20 per cent for scheme participants, while this figure was 29 per cent for the matched comparison group of offenders who were not a part of the restorative justice program.
A similar trend was visible after five years, where about 47 per cent of program attendees had re-offended, compared to 57 per cent of regular offenders.
Extrapolated for a ten-year figure, figures showed that after this period, 54 per cent of those subjected to restorative justice would be expected to re-offend, compared to 64 per of non-participants, for at least one offence.
The frequency of offending in the follow-up period was also 30 per cent lower for offenders who had participated in a restorative justice conference.
The study was commissioned by the ACT’s justice and community safety directorate to the Australian National University and the Australian Institute of Criminology to undertake an impact evaluation of the program.