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Green Paper: Breaking the cycle - Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders

Dec 20, 2010

from the UK Government's new Green Paper:

78. We are committed to increasing the range and availability of restorative justice approaches to support reparation. Restorative justice is the name given to processes which provide victims with the opportunity to play a personal role in determining how an offender makes amends. This can often include direct reparation. A substantial minority of victims would consider meeting their offender by way of a restorative justice process and those victims who do report high levels of satisfaction. The evidence suggests that the approach may also have a positive impact on the offender’s likelihood of reoffending in the future. Getting an offender to confront the consequences of their crimes directly is often an effective punishment for less serious offences. 

79. While it is a well established concept in youth justice, restorative justice for adults is sometimes viewed as an afterthought to sentencing. We are looking at how we might change this so that in appropriate cases restorative justice is a fundamental part of the sentencing process. Firstly, this is likely to involve using restorative approaches as a better alternative to formal criminal justice action for low level offenders where the offender and victim agree the outcome such as apologising, replacing stolen items, or making good any damage caused. This is a more effective punishment than a simple caution, and builds on local approaches already used by the police, usually described as “neighbourhood resolution”. 

80. Secondly, in instances where a court case is likely to lead to a fine or community sentence, we will explore how it could best be used at the charging stage. Here, restoration would be delivered as part of an out-ofcourt disposal, for example as a condition attached to a conditional caution. This could result in the offender paying compensation to the victim, or making good their offence in other ways determined by the victim. This could prevent distress to the victim and deliver a suitable punishment. 

81. Thirdly, restorative conferences carried out pre-sentence for offenders who admit guilt and who agree to participate, could be reported to the court with the victim’s consent as part of pre-sentence reports. They could therefore inform the court’s decision about the type or severity of sentence handed down. In some cases, and for some offences, sentencing could be deferred pending successful completion of actions agreed. 

Read the whole paper.

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Mike Marcus
Mike Marcus says:
Jan 04, 2011 05:02 PM

On s80 I am concerned that if offenders know beforehand that agreeing to attend a restorative meeting prior to sentencing may influence the sentencing outcome may alter the incentive for attending a conference. If done post sentence then the motivation of the offender may be more motivated by a need to apologise.

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