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Restorative Justice for Diversion

Restorative programmes are sometimes used to divert offenders from being charged (a decision made by the police or prosecutor) or tried (a decision made by the prosecutor or judge). These articles describe ways in which this is done, and discuss issues, benefits and limitations of diversion.

For additional articles on restorative justice and policing and prosecution, please visit the Police Station or the Court House.

World needs to find alternatives to putting children in jail
from the article by Astrid Zweynert in The Daily Mail: An estimated one million children are in jail around the world, a violation of child rights principles that say detention should only be a measure of last resort, a leading campaigner said on Monday.... The effects can be devastating. Children are likely to be exposed to abuse and violence, including from the police, security forces, their peers or adult detainees, said Vito Angelillo, chief executive of aid agency Terre des Hommes....
Oscar Pistorius' sentence: A missed opportunity?
from the post by Mike Batley on Restorative Justice Centre in South Africa: The sentence that Judge Masipa has decided on reflects the careful balancing act required of a diligent sentencing officer. She has taken the calls by the State for direct imprisonment into account but not to the extent the prosecutor wanted; she has taken into account the call by the defence for Oscar to make a contribution to society by not imposing as lengthy a term of imprisonment as she could have.... These are some of the broader dimensions that could have been explored:
Driver admits causing death: Case referred to restorative justice
from the article in Otago Daily Times: A man who yesterday admitted careless driving causing the death of another motorist will complete a restorative justice programme before being sentenced. Michael John Andrews (27), mine worker, of Queenstown, appeared before Judge Tom Broadmore in the Queenstown District Court and admitted causing the death of David Orchard on State Highway 1, Mangamaunu, Kaikoura, on March 6....
Restorative justice will cover the country
From the article on Voxy.co.nz: Justice Minister Judith Collins has ... announced restorative justice services will be expanded and rolled out to all courts in New Zealand. An additional 2,400 restorative justice conferences - totalling 3,600 in 2014/15 - follow the Government’s $4.4 million investment in adult pre-sentence restorative justice as part of Budget 2013. Ms Collins says investing in pre-sentence restorative justice will help deliver results, give victims a voice in the justice system and make victims strong.
Using restorative justice at the pre-sentence stage of the criminal justice process
From the article by Ian Marder on TransConflict: Restorative justice is a form of conflict resolution in which those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, are brought together into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. The restorative justice movement is making waves in schools, community services, post-conflict societies, criminal justice processes and housing and care settings around the world, and the effectiveness of using restorative practices to resolve conflicts in these contexts is increasingly being recognised, leading to its underpinning in national and international legal frameworks. Restorative justice can be conducted safely and effectively at all parts of the criminal justice process, but there are certain advantages which are specific to its use at the pre-sentence stage. This includes, for example, its ability to inform the sentencing decisions of magistrates and judges by giving them an additional opportunity to learn about the state of mind, character and level of contrition of the offender, ultimately leading to a better targeted and more responsive use of criminal justice interventions. Moreover, allowing for restorative justice at this point affords those involved in an incident the chance to resolve the conflict themselves with minimal state intervention.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus talks restorative justice
from the interview with Kelly Pyzik for Scarlet & Black: ....First, could you tell me a little bit about the short course you taught at Grinnell the past two weeks? The purpose of the course was to introduce students to the principles of restorative justice and their historical roots, to discuss current restorative justice programs and applications of restorative principles and to compare how our country currently addresses conflict and wrongdoing with how we might address those matters using a more restorative approach.
Youth Justice Conferences versus Children’s Court: A comparison of cost-effectiveness
from the article by Andrew Webber in Crime and Justice Bulletin: Aim: To compare the cost-effectiveness of Youth Justice Conferences (YJCs) to matters eligible for YJCs but dealt with in the Children’s Court. Method: The costs for Police, Legal Aid, Children’s Court, Juvenile Justice YJC administration and Juvenile Justice administration of court orders were separately estimated using a combination of top-down and bottom-up costing methods. These were combined with data from matched samples of young people who were to be dealt with by a YJC and young people who could have been dealt with by a YJC but instead were dealt with in the Children’s Court in 2007 in order to estimate average costs per person for each process.
Victims of Crime Reform Bill to increase RJ referrals
from the article by John Delaney on Restorative Justice Trust: The Victims of Crime Reform Bill will soon return for its second reading in the House. The Bill introduces a package of measures that are aimed at strengthening existing legislation to better provide for the needs of victims of crime. Of significance for restorative justice providers is the proposal to increase the number of cases referred to restorative justice. This is in recognition of the domestic and international research showing extremely high levels of satisfaction amongst victims who go through the RJ process.
Dalhousie offers restorative justice option for students
from the article on updatednews.ca: Dalhousie University students who end up in trouble with the law now have a way to try to right the wrong without having to go to court. The University, police and the province’s Justice Department have set up a restorative justice program just for students of the school. It’s the first program of its kind for university students in Canada.
Restorative justice "is a postcode lottery"
from the article on PublicService.co.uk: The report said that restorative justice does offer benefits to victims, offenders and communities and it is being used in all areas of the criminal justice system – but patchy take-up and inconsistent application mean that not all victims, offenders and communities are able to benefit.
New home for juveniles recruited to drug trade
from the article by Julian Aguilar in the New York Times: Freddie knows he is lucky. If he were six months older, he could be in a state prison. Or he could have been labeled a snitch and treated as such by Mexican cartel operatives.
It could be different…
by Lynette Parker Recently, I’ve been working with a colleague in Liberia on issues related to pre-trial detention. In his country, as much as 85% of the prison population is awaiting trial. My colleague would like to see this change.
A visionary judge makes restorative justice come alive in Alabama
from Ken Kimsey's entry on Fairness Works: In a six-part video series, Judge McCooey talks passionately about her believe that justice requires much more than the court system provides, especially in the area of giving crime victims the opportunity to meet the offenders, face-to-face, in a safe place, and to do so on a voluntary basis. (If you walk out of here and find someone has stolen your car radio, chances are you don’t have much interest in meeting the thief, she says in one segment. But the more deeply you have been hurt, the more likely you want to meet the offender and ask questions like “why?”.) As appealing as her speaking style and warmth is her story about the unorthodox path that led her to the bench. Serving as a judge was never in her long-range plans, but when she won her first election against a well-established Montgomery lawyer, surprising herself in the process, she knew there were some new thing she wanted to try. Finding ways of implementing a restorative justice program was among them, and she set about methodically but quietly to make this happen.
Green Paper: Breaking the cycle - Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders
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 [...]
Green Paper: Breaking the cycle - Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders
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.
Economic analysis of interventions for young adult offenders
from the report for the Barrow Cadbury Trust by Matrix Evidence: This report summarises an economic analysis of alternative interventions for young adult offenders. It concludes that, for all offenders aged 18-24 sentenced in a Magistrate’s court for a non-violent offence1 in a given year: Diversion from community orders to pre-court RJ conferencing schemes (following a police triage service in which police officers make an immediate assessment of the need and likely benefit from a community intervention) is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of almost £275 million (£7,050 per offender). The costs of RJ conferencing are likely to be paid back within the first year of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of over £1 billion. Diversion from custody to community orders via changes in sentencing guidelines is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of more than £12 million (£1,032 per offender). The costs of changing sentencing guidelines are likely to be paid back within three years of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of almost £33 million. Diversion from trial under adult law to trial under juvenile law following maturity assessment is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of almost £5 million (£420 per offender). The costs of maturity assessments are likely to be paid back within five years of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of almost £473,000.
Economic analysis of interventions for young adult offenders
from the report for the Barrow Cadbury Trust by Matrix Evidence: This report summarises an economic analysis of alternative interventions for young adult offenders. It concludes that, for all offenders aged 18-24 sentenced in a Magistrate’s court for a non-violent offence1 in a given year: Diversion from community orders to pre-court RJ conferencing schemes (following a police triage service in which police officers make an immediate assessment of the need and likely benefit from a community intervention) is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of almost £275 million (£7,050 per offender). The costs of RJ conferencing are likely to be paid back within the first year of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of over £1 billion. Diversion from custody to community orders via changes in sentencing guidelines is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of more than £12 million (£1,032 per offender). The costs of changing sentencing guidelines are likely to be paid back within three years of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of almost £33 million. Diversion from trial under adult law to trial under juvenile law following maturity assessment is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of almost £5 million (£420 per offender). The costs of maturity assessments are likely to be paid back within five years of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of almost £473,000.
Griffin on the final report of the National Commission on Restorative Justice
from Human Rights in Ireland: The National Commission on Restorative Justice published its final report in December 2009. The Commission, announced in March 2007, was set up to examine the wider application of restorative justice within the criminal justice system. The Commission was established following the report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights which recommended the development of a restorative justice programme for adult offenders in the Irish criminal justice system.
ZAMBIA: Justice delayed becoming justice denied
Harry Mubita was tired of his wretched condition in prison. He had been in Lusaka Central Prison for more than a year, and still there was no sign that his theft case would be heard. Mubita, a tailor, accepted money from a woman who wanted him to make her a traditional dress known as the Chitenge Outfit – a long skirt and an intricately cut and sewn top, with a matching wrap-around and head-scarf. All made from a single length of material. But he failed to deliver. Mubita also did not refund the ZMK70,000 (about 14.40 dollars) payment, or return the six metres of cotton print. The aggrieved woman told the police, and two constables armed with AK-47 rifles arrested Mubita at his Kaunda Square Market shop. Mubita's case is not unusual.
Wright, Martin, (2002) Restorative Justice Outside the Criminal Justice System: How Far Have We Come? Paper to Second Conference of the European Forum for Victim/Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice. Oostende, Belgium, 10-12 October 2002.
Many people have commented on the difficulty of defining restorative justice. It is like a growing child: as soon as its parents have provided some clothes, it has grown and more are needed. The idea of community involvement in the process is just one example. Its grandparents, so to speak, come from different backgrounds; and many of them were practitioners rather than theorists. This paper will consider how restorative justice started with programmes that brought the community into the criminal justice system or diverting cases out of it, ending with the use of restorative justice outside the system. (excerpt)

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