More evidence of the effectiveness of restorative justice for young offenders
The latest evaluation of the youth conferencing restorative justice process in Northern Ireland has confirmed what previous studies have shown: that restorative justice is an effective way to deal with youth offending.
The Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland report assesses the effectiveness of the youth conferencing system. The youth conferencing system, which enables young offenders who have pleaded guilty to take part in a restorative process, is firmly embedded into the youth justice system in Northern Ireland and a youth conference order is the most common type of community sentence for young people in Northern Ireland.
The report notes that the reoffending rate for those who receive a youth conference order is 54% compared to a rate of 63% for those who receive other community sentences. Those who take part in restorative justice as part of a diversionary disposal have a reoffending rate of 19%. Updated figures for reoffending published after this report was compiled also show a lower rate of reoffending for those who took part in restorative justice as compared to other disposals. Due to the proven effects of the youth conferencing service and the high numbers of referrals involving young people brought up in care, the report recommends for restorative practices to be integrated into all care homes.
The study also involved interviews with both victims and offenders who had taken part in restorative justice. It found that most people who had participated had positive views on the process. The report concludes that the interviews demonstrated positive outcomes for a clear majority of young people who participated in conferencing.
The full evaluation can be found here.