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Commission on English Prisons Today

Commission on English Prisons Today

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Commission on English Prisons Today

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  1. Commission on English Prisons Today Restorative Justice and Victims Heather Strang PhD

  2. Research on Restorative Justice • Empirical evidence base now substantial, mainly in relation to face-to-face RJ • Research mainly in UK, Australia and US • 12 randomised controlled trials on medical model for testing new drugs • Tested with: • adults/juveniles • violent/property crime • Prison and community • As diversion and in addition to conventional justice

  3. Principal research findings • RJ usually results in reduction in frequency of reconviction (i.e. less crime after RJ) • RJ shown to be very cost effective • Victims much more satisfied with their justice experience

  4. RJ studies in custody and community sentences • Pre-sentence studies with burglary and robbery cases in London; most offenders remanded in custody • Post-sentence study with violence; all offenders serving custodial sentences • Post-sentence study with violence; all offenders serving community supervision sentences

  5. Key issues • Pre-RJ preparation by RJ facilitator of both offenders and victims re roles and expectations • Leads to high take-up and no surprises • Special preparations for victims when RJ held in prisons

  6. Findings for offenders in UK prison-RJ • In line with earlier findings, reduction on frequency of reconviction by RJ group compared with control group (no RJ) • Robbery down 8% • Burglary down 16% • Prison violence down 33% • Community supervision down 55%

  7. Findings for victims in UK prison - RJ • More satisfied with justice experience • Reduced post-traumatic stress symptoms • Reduced anger, fear and anxiety • Reduced desire for violent revenge • Entirely feasible from victims’ standpoint to conduct RJ in prisons

  8. Recommendations for consideration • RJ pre-release – offenders to be asked prior to release if they are willing to meet their victims - victims to be approached and assisted to meet if willing; if not, then RJ without victims – supporters only • RJ with suspended sentences – ‘sword of Damocles’ relating to compliance with RJ undertakings • RJ as part of community sentences