18 May 2013

Restorative justice gets boost with new spending

11:30 am on 18 May 2013

The Government is to spend more on restorative justice conferences: $4 million of new spending over two years has been earmarked in the Budget.

The Government at present funds about 2000 restorative justice conferences each year at a cost of about $2.1 million.

The conferences bring victims and offenders together to hold criminals to account and attendance is voluntary.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the extra money will almost double the number of such meetings each year to 3600 by 2015.

"We have a better chance of getting them onto the right path. But of course it's not going to be right for every offender - it's certainly not for those manipulative or recidivist or violent offenders who simply don't care."

Ms Collins says participation in restorative justice alone can reduce overall reoffending by up to 20%.

A survey in 2011 of victims who had attended meetings showed about 74% felt safer afterwards.

The move is part of Government policies aimed at reducing reoffending rates by 25% by 2017.

Ms Collins says overall reoffending rates are currently down more than 8%.

About $10 million will be spent over the next two years on support services for offenders once they have been released from prison.

It applies to people who have served less that two years in jail.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says this money is aimed at preventing repeated criminal activity once back in the community.

Mrs Tolley says about 27% of those released are back behind bars within a year, and 37% within two years.