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NCJ Number: 204825 Find in a Library
Title: Achieving Effective Outcomes in Youth Justice: Implications of New Research for Principles, Policy and Practice
Author(s): Gabrielle Maxwell
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Sale Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944
Canberra ACT, 2601,
Document: PDF
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This New Zealand study examined the long-term impact on juveniles of the restorative justice practices implemented in family group conferences.
Abstract: The retrospective component of the study selected 24 youth justice coordinators as a sample that varied in age, ethnicity, gender, and practice. A total of 1,003 juveniles who were at least 15 years and 9 months of age at the time they participated in a family group conference were drawn from the files of the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Services (CYFS) to provide a retrospective sample in 1998. In 2000/2001, 520 of these juveniles were interviewed, and data were obtained on their history in the adult justice system, if any, since they reached 17 years old. This sample was representative of the 1998 sample and comprised over one-third of all the older cases nationwide at that time. Approximately one-third were Maori, 15 percent were female, and 15 percent were Pacific youth. The prospective component of the study involved a sample of 115 family group conferences selected in 2001/2002. This prospective sample will be followed up in 2003/2004. These conferences were facilitated by 18 of the 24 coordinators whose cases composed the retrospective sample. Interviews were conducted with at least 100 juveniles, families, and victims after the conference was completed. Follow-up interviews were conducted with victims to determine whether actions the juveniles promised to perform had been done. Other data were obtained from a study of 1,794 cases that involved juveniles apprehended by the police in 2000/2001 as well as from CYFS files on the entire 6,309 cases referred for a family group conference in 1998. Since the family group conference, most of the involved youth have developed positive goals and achieved successes. Of those followed up, 70 percent had been constructively employed in the last 6 months, and over 80 percent reported close personal relationships. Approximately 60 percent reported they want no further involvement in crime, that life has gone well for them, and that the future looks positive. Thirty percent had not been detected in any criminal activity. Negative life events and risk factors, however, were found for just over 60 percent. Approximately one-third reported involvement in additional detected offending. Data on convictions for offenses committed as an adult indicated that nearly half had appeared before the courts in the first year after they turned 17 years old; and after 3 years, this figure had increased to 69 percent. Most were property offenses, followed by traffic and violence. The data provide strong support for the model that explains both reoffending and positive life outcomes as a product of a variety of earlier life events. There was no support for a stronger justice system based in punishment and retribution. Findings emphasize the importance of early intervention that builds on positive relationships in both the school and family environments. Diversionary strategies that involve the least restrictive sanctions and avoid formal charges are likely to produce more positive outcomes. The study concludes that a constructive family group conference can make an important contribution in preventing further offending despite negative background factors and irrespective of the nature of the offense. Implications are drawn for crime prevention, data recording, monitoring, standards, effective practice, and restorative justice practices for young offenders. 2 figures and 19 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile Corrections/Detention effectiveness
Index Term(s): Family conferencing; Foreign juvenile justice systems; Juvenile diversion programs; New Zealand; Restorative Justice
Note: Paper presented at the "Juvenile Justice: From Lessons of the Past to a Road for the Future" conference held on December 1-2, 2003, in Sydney, Australia; downloaded March 25, 2004.
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