Criminal justice policy.

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To what extent is restorative justice likely to benefit offenders and the victim referred to in the case study?

The idea of restorative justice is to work with people in their communities in the aftermath of crime in order for victims and offenders to meet and make amends. The aim of restorative justice is the consultation, which involves the three youths involved in this case study, seeking to rectify the harm they caused to Mrs Mathers. Its process is based upon a ‘shaming factor’, on the basis that it would also prevent juvenile from re-offending.

It requires the victim, the community and the offender to meet in a safe setting. The offender is given the opportunity to accept responsibility for the harm caused as the conference examines the real causes and seeks solutions rather than having such decisions imposed by courts.

Evaluation of the success of restorative justice initiatives has shown that both victims and offenders show great satisfaction with the process and the outcomes. However, evidence that the project actually stops or reduces re-offending is hard to come by due to empirical reasons, but there are some optimistic indicators to suggest the re-offending rate has declined.

Assessing the value of mediation to victims is valuable. The measurement of re-offending is an inexact science but the fear of crime- and the way victims feel about being attacked again- can be measured before and after mediation. The results of research to date are encouraging.

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Umbreit (1994) studied four victim/offender mediation programmes involving juveniles. Before mediation, 26% of victims feared re-victimisation, whereas after, only 10% did.

Umbreit also recorded that 80% of victims in New Mexico, Texas, Minnesota and California expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of mediation, compared to 55% not involved in mediation (Umbreit et al, 1993, p39).

Research in the UK show similarly high rates of victim satisfaction. In 1994, research by the West Midlands Probation Service showed that victims where a juvenile offender was involved expressed satisfaction from mediation.

In the Leeds Victim-Offender Unit in 1996-7, 58% of victims said they ...

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