Restorative Justice is both a way of thinking about crime and a process for responding to crime that enables victims to begin to resolve some of the effects of the offending.
Published: 09 Sep 15
Putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system
Whanganui Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice is both a way of thinking about crime and a process for responding to crime that enables victims to begin to resolve some of the effects of the offending. Referrals from the Court are made prior to sentencing after an offender has pleaded guilty in front of a Judge. Restorative Justice is a voluntary process that puts the people most affected by crime, the victims, at the heart of the criminal justice system by giving them the opportunity to meet with the offender and let them know about the impact of crime while working towards some form of resolution. Victims of crime need to regain a sense of personal power and it is this empowerment that transforms victims of crime into survivors.
This collaborative problem solving approach also aims to effect change into the life of an offender including prevention of further offending.
Here is a photo that was taken yesterday when the local MP Chester Burrows and Minister of Corrections Peseta Sam Lotu-liga came over to the office to learn about what is happening in RJ in Whanganui
>From the left Coordinator Susan Anderson, Trust Board members, Gail Cato, Jenny Saywood, David Alexander, Karen Edlin, Minister of Corrections Peseta Sam Lotu-liga and local MP Chester Burrows.
Whanganui Restorative Justice was formed in 1999.
It is governed by a Charitable Trust and is a nationally accredited provider that services District Courts in the Whanganui, Rangitikei and Ruapehu region. The Trust is funded by the Ministry of Justice and employs a Coordinator, 4 facilitators and an administrator. Whanganui Restorative Justice utilises a community based model of restorative justice. This means that two community representatives are chosen from a pool of trained volunteers to attend each victim / offender conference. Their role is to provide a community perspective on the offending and offer support to victims and offenders. A wide range of offences are referred by the Court including a range of assaults, family violence, burglary, theft, careless / dangerous driving causing injury / death and damage to property to name a few.
It takes courage for victims to attend a restorative conference. However the benefits gained are clear according to the Ministry of Justice 2011 Victim Satisfaction Survey. This survey showed that 80% of victims would recommend restorative justice to others in a similar situation, 84% were satisfied with the conference they attended and 74% felt better following a conference.
Offenders who participated in the restorative process were found to be 20% less likely to re-offend.
"It could not have been improved."
"Glad we accepted the invitation to attend."
"Thank you for the opportunity to speak and be listened to without interruption."
Although Restorative Justice is not a magic bullet, it is a process that not only aims to reduce crime but also aims to reduce the impact of crime. A criminal justice system that merely doles out punishment and sidelines victims does not address the emotional or relational needs of those who have been affected by crime. Restorative Justice endeavours to address those needs and in doing so seeks to restore and build positive relationships and is another intervention tool worthy of consideration in the prevention of crime in our communities.
For more information go to: www.restorativepracticeswhanganui.co.nz