Restorative justice initiatives: public opinion and support in NSW

Australia New South Wales
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This paper examines public opinion and support for restorative justice initiatives for theft/vandalism and assault offences across NSW in 2011.

Method: An independent market research company completed 2,530 telephone interviews with NSW residents over a 4-week period.

Results: There was widespread support for restorative justice initiatives. Most respondents agreed that offenders’ sentences should include unpaid work in the community (85.9%); and that victims should be given the opportunity to inform offenders of the harm caused (87.3%), and have a say in how the offender can make amends for that harm (73.8%). While the restorative justice initiatives of ‘making amends to victims’ and ‘unpaid work in the community’, were viewed as less effective in preventing crime and disorder compared to ‘better supervision of young people by parents’ or ‘better mental health care’, they were viewed as more effective than receiving ‘a prison sentence’. Women, regional dwellers, those with lower educational attainment, crime victims and those displaying more punitive attitudes tended to be more supportive of restorative justice principles.

Conclusion: The results suggest that the principles underpinning restorative justice initiatives are well supported by the community.

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