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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.

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Waite, Graham. Northern Territory Police Juvenile Pre-Court Diversion Scheme
In 2000 the Northern Territory of Australia and the Commonwealth of Australia entered into a formal agreement for a Juvenile Pre-Court Diversion Scheme. The agreement requires the Northern Territory Police to manage the diversion scheme, and it requires the police to offer diversion to all juveniles who commit a minor property offense. The aim of this scheme is to divert juveniles away from the formal justice system and the courts. Graham Waite, Superintendent of the Northern Territory Police, provides a detailed report on the goals, processes, and results of this diversion scheme in the Northern Territory, with particular attention to its preventive and restorative aspects in relation to juvenile offending.
Stout, Brian. Is Diversion the Appropriate Emphasis for South African Child Justice?
Diversion is central to the aim of achieving a South African child justice regime that is compliant with constitutional and international obligations. Future plans for South African child justice are dependent on large numbers of child offenders being diverted. This article presents research suggesting that although diversion from court in South African child justice improves the treatment of many children, it will continue to exclude large numbers of children from the most progressive interventions. The research suggests that the practice of diversion will exclude persistent and serious offenders, and raises questions about whether it is appropriate for advocates of reform to place such an emphasis on diversion. (author's abstract)
McLeod, Colleen and Bazemore, Gordon. Restorative Justice and the Future of Diversion and Informal Social Control
Bazemore and McLeod observe that restorative justice proponents often suffer from a problem of 'disconnect' in the discourse of mainstream debates about juvenile justice policy. Proponents tend to focus on restorative justice as a more satisfying process for individual victims, offenders, and their supporters. In contrast, policymakers and juvenile justice administrators, while they may be interested in restorative justice, want to know how restorative justice connects with the larger juvenile justice agenda and with general public concerns about community safety, sanctioning and censuring of crime, fairness, and justice. In particular, Bazemore and McLeod point to the need to strengthen community capacity for informal social control in response to youth crime. Hence, they argue for a restorative justice 'model' or guiding philosophy of intervention that would connect restorative principles and informal social control at the policy level in that arena of juvenile justice generally referred to as diversion. In pursuit of restorative justice at this policy level, they discuss diversion in American juvenile justice, libertarian and interventionist approaches to diversion, informal social control, social support, and a restorative justice approach to diversion.
Penal Reform International. Community service in practice
These documents in this publication were gathered during the International Conference on Community Service in Africa, which took place on 24-28 November 1997 in Kadoma, Zimbabwe. This conference, organised jointly by PRI and the Zimbabwe National Committee on Community Service (ZNCCS), included key representatives from each National Committees for Community Service together with actors from the entire African continent and other parts of the world. It provided a forum for participants to meet and share information on progress made in their respective countries; to discuss and find solutions to common problems encountered within their Community Service schemes; to develop approaches to alternative measures adaptable to other African countries (and other developing countries); and to lay the groundwork for joint actions in providing resources and mutual assistance. (excerpt)
Penal Reform International. Le travail d'interet general: une alternative à l’incarcération
This leaflet explains community service and outlines its introduction as an alternative to custody in Zimbabwe. (author's abstract)
Penal Reform International. Community service as an alternative to custody
This leaflet explains community service and outlines its introduction as an alternative to custody in Zimbabwe. (publisher's abstract)
Norvell, Jeanell J.. A First Time Felony Offender Program Evaluation: Pretrial Diversion Program, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Montgomery, Alabama
This study was a program evaluation of an Adlerian based, restorative justice, retrial diversion program. The researcher examined changes in offenders' self-concepts, dissociations, and recidivism rates. (author's abstract)
Braddock, Robert A.. Rhetoric or restoration? A study into the restorative potential of the conditional cautioning scheme.
In December 2007, the conditional caution scheme was introduced as a result of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The aim of this scheme was to provide an additional option to the range of ‘out of court disposals’, which can be imposed on offenders for minor offences without the necessity of court appearances. The conditional caution is an enhanced caution which allows conditions to be imposed, such as reparation, letters of apology or drug and alcohol awareness courses, which must be fulfilled in order for the caution to be completed. Restorative justice is also an option with regard to these cautions. After canvassing stakeholders within this process, it was observed that the concept of introducing victim–offender mediation within the cautioning process was not commonly viewed as a positive step. The majority of victims were not in favour of this, and other criminal justice stakeholders were also divided as to whether this would be beneficial. The motivation behind these responses differed according to the role played within the process, with victims being pessimistic regarding the benefits of this approach, and criminal justice professionals expressing concern with regard to the timeconsuming nature of these activities. An additional flaw in this process centred around communication with victims. There appeared to be a disparity between contacts with different victim types, with corporate victims only contacted if time allowed. This indicated that time constraints were a specific deciding factor with regard to the process. (author's abstract)
Penal Reform International. Le Travail D'Interet General Guide Pratique
Ces documents ont été rassemblés à l’occasion de la Conférence internationale sur le Travail d’intérêt général en Afrique qui a eu lieu à Kadoma, au Zimbabwe, du 24 au 28 novembre 1997. Cette conférence, organisée conjointement par PRI et le Comité national du Zimbabwe sur le Travail d’intérêt général (ZNCCS) a été l’occasion, pour des acteurs clés des Comités nationaux pour le Travail d’intérêt général et des personnes venant de tout le continent africain et d’autres parties du monde de se rencontrer et d’échanger des informations sur les progrès réalisés dans leurs pays respectifs, de débattre et d’apporter des solutions aux difficultés rencontrées par chacun, de développer des mesures alternatives à la détention adaptables à d’autres pays africains, et de poser les bases d’une action concertée, en se dotant de suffisamment de moyens et en s’apportant un soutien mutuel. (excerpt)
Stickle, Wendy Povitsky and Gottfredson, Denise and Wilson, Denise M. and Connell, Nadine M.. An experimental evaluation of teen courts.
Teen Court (TC) is a juvenile diversion program designed to prevent the formal processing of first-time juvenile offenders within the juvenile justice system. TC instead utilizes informal processing and sanctions in order to prevent future offending. Despite its widespread popularity throughout the United States of America, little rigorous research has been conducted on the effectiveness of the TC model for reducing recidivism. Using an experimental design, this study examined the effectiveness of TC in reducing recidivism and improving the attitudes and opinions of juvenile offenders in comparison with a control group of youth who were formally processed. Self-reported delinquency was higher for those youth who participated in TC. TC youth were also found to have significantly lower scores on a scale of belief in conventional rules than had youth who were processed in the Department of Juveniles Services. Implications of these findings are discussed. (author's abstract)
Palk, George and Livingston, Michael and Stewart, Anna and Hayes, Hennessey. Youth Justice Conferencing and Indigenous Over-Representation in the Queensland Juvenile Justice System: A Micro-Simulation Case Study.
Research suggests that rather than focusing on criminal justice responses, more progress in reducing Aboriginal overrepresentation might be made if the focus was shifted to the underlying causes of Aboriginal crime: substance abuse, family violence, poor school performance, and unemployment. Further development of initiatives to address the underlying causes of offending by indigenous young people, as well as use of effective criminal justice responses, such as youth justice conferencing, likely will be more effective in reducing the overrepresentation of young indigenous people in the juvenile justice system. The results of the simulations indicate that youth justice conferencing is unlikely to contribute significantly to the targets set by the Justice Agreement. While conferencing has the potential to reduce the number of young people reoffending overall, this impact may be more apparent for non-indigenous young offenders, resulting in an increase in the disparity in the ratio of indigenous to non-indigenous young offenders. While youth justice conferencing is only one of a range of criminal justice interventions identified in the Justice Agreement as strategies for reaching the identified goals, it is the only diversionary option that has been empirically shown to reduce rates of reoffending. However, there is a deep need for more rigorous evaluations of the impact of youth justice conferencing on reoffending; simulation modeling is only as good as the estimates that are used as parameters in the models. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).
Penal Reform International. Alternatives to imprisonment in the Republic of Kazakhstan
An international conference was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan between 27 and 30 October 1999, on the subject of 'Alternatives to imprisonment in Kazakhstan'. The focus of discussion at the conference was the issue of how to implement in practice and raise the effectiveness of application of criminal sanctions which do not involve imprisonment... Subjects discussed at the conference included alternatives to pre-trial detention, alternatives to custodial sentences, various types of conditional-early release, the role of and questions surrounding the reorganisation of the criminal-executive inspection system, restorative justice and alternatives in relation to minors. The conference participants developed recommendations with the aim of assisting the government and society in general in Kazakhstan in widening the use of alternative, non-custodial measures and in increasing their effectiveness. (excerpt)
Long, Kendall L. Hozhooji Youth Diversion Project
This session will report on the Hozhooji Youth Diversion Project, a program which provides presentations, counseling, workshops and awareness for first-time youth offenders of non-violent crimes. In the Navajo way, Hozhooji means "harmony" or "in a good way." The HYDP project is designed to actively involve the youth, with their family, in a three-session diversionary program that is designed to provide awareness and ultimately provide balance and harmony between the youth, the family and their community. Services offered may include work sessions, traditional sweats, talking circle sessions, ropes courses, and other activities. The goal is to reduce the recidivism of first-time youth offenders by 65 percent.
Meznar, Alenka. Alternative forms of dealing with criminal offences
A state prosecutor in Slovenia, Alenka Meznar explores Slovenia’s efforts to implement settlements prior to criminal proceedings. The aims are to address lesser offences effectively while at the same time reducing their impact on the courts (thus freeing the court system to deal more adequately with more serious forms of organized crime and corruption). Specifically, Meznar discusses two alternatives to criminal proceedings in the Slovene system: deferred prosecution leading to some form of compensation from the offender to the victim; and victim-offender mediation.
Wood, Catherine. Diversion in South Africa: A review of policy and practice, 1990-2003
Diversion initiatives in South Africa, writes Catherine Wood, have been practiced since the early 1990s. Since 1996 there has been a substantial expansion in the number of children referred to diversion programs. However, this has occurred in a more or less selective and disjointed fashion as there has been no legislative framework to regulate this development. In view of all of this, Wood in this paper reviews the policy and practice of diversion in South Africa in the 1990s and into the 2000s. She examines the concept of diversion and its introduction and development in South Africa, with reference to the drafting of the Child Justice Bill in 2002. She outlines the new procedures and mechanisms for diversion as proposed in the Bill. Then she analyses developments in the field of diversion that have taken place in South Africa since 1997 in preparation for implementation of the Bill.
Muntingh, Lukas. The effectiveness of diversion programmes- a longitudinal evaluation of cases.
Diversion programs were established in South Africa on a fairly informal basis in the early 1990s by the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) and Lawyers for Human Rights. Proponents of diversion have advocated for its expansion, including making it a cornerstone of juvenile justice and decongesting the criminal justice system. Yet, there is little properly documented research on the effectiveness of diversion programs in reducing crime in South Africa. NICRO therefore provided the setting for a longitudinal study of diversion clients. This document presents the results of that study. It covers the following topics: a description of NICRO diversion programs and statistics; the research aims and method; recidivism; a profile of respondents to the research survey; feedback from interviews with clients; a profile of recidivists; and conclusions based on the study.
Koch, J. R. Community Service and Outright Release as Alternatives to Juvenile Court: an Experiential Evaluation
In this study, two models of diversion were compared to traditional processing by the juvenile justice system: diversion without services (i.e., outright release) and diversion to the Community Service Program. The Community Service Program provided a setting for the arbitration of conflicts, the payment of restitution, and the placement of youths in voluntary community service positions. Participants (n=243) were randomly assigned to one of the three "treatment" conditions. This study provided consistent evidence of successful diversion implementation. At the same time, no evidence was found to indicate that diversion was more effective than traditional processing in reducing labeling or delinquency.

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