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The Australian Institute of Criminology states that about 60 per cent of those in custody in Australia have been imprisoned before.
This high rate of re-offending (recidivism) forces us to call into question the effectiveness of the current criminal justice system which focuses primarily on punishment and isolation from the community.
‘Restorative justice’ is an alternative approach which can be used (in certain circumstances) alongside criminal charges. This approach seeks to bring together the offender and the victim in a supervised environment to discuss the harm that has been done, with a focus on the offender taking responsibility and repairing that harm.
Research led by RegNet’s Centre for Restorative Justice and funded by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that, for some offences, this approach led to substantially reduced rates of re-offending when compared to cases which were dealt with by the criminal justice system alone.
The approach has also proven to be beneficial for the victim, as RegNet’s Dr Miranda Forsyth explains in an interview with Sydney Criminal Lawyers. Dr Forsyth said:
“On average, restorative justice processes leave both offenders and victims more satisfied with their interaction with the justice system. It’s substantially cost-effective. It reduces victim post-traumatic stress, reduces their fear and their desire for revenge.”
Dr Forsyth explains that the ACT has been a forerunner in putting restorative justice into practice and is now working towards establishing Canberra as a ‘restorative city’.
Read the full interview here on the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website.