Community Law is calling for better solutions for dealing with low-level crime, following Justice Minister Amy Adams’ announcement last week that reoffending rates lower by as much as 15% for participants of restorative justice conferences.
The organisation wants to see more resources allocated to crime prevention rather than prisons.
Restorative justice conferences require the victim and perpetrator to together to discuss the crime and reach an agreeable outcome, in front of members of the community rather than a lawyer or judge.
“It allows the victim to explain the extent of hurt that’s been caused and that tends to make the person who’s committed the crime feel a lot more responsible for what they’ve done,” Community Law Centre O Aotearoa Chief Executive Elizabeth Tennet told NZ Lawyer.
“Often what that means is that the perpetrator learns a very valuable lesson of what’s happened of what they’ve caused as a result there tends to be a very good result of that and that person is less likely to commit another crime.”
Tennet said organisations like Community Law should work with the government to help reduce crime and support the victims.
“We are promoting the fact that we should be involved in establishing community and appearing in justice panels to ensure that… the perpetrator comes before a paired community group within their region to explain why that person did the wrong,” she said.
“We think they provide good outcomes, they keep people out of the criminal justice system, they keep them out of the court system and particularly for young people, who often do pretty stupid things, it’s a very valuable lesson that they learn.”