Restorative justice programs for sexual and family violence cases: the need for evaluation

Ms Daye Gang1, Associate Professor Bebe Loff2, Professor Bronwyn Naylor3, Doctor Maggie Kirkman4
1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 3RMIT, Melbourne, Australia, 4Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Restorative justice has been offered in many forms as a justice option for survivors of sexual and family violence for several decades, including in Australia. Scholars commonly conceptualise the merits and drawbacks of restorative justice for sexual and family violence – whether on feminist grounds, criminal justice grounds or others – without referring to a specific program or kind of program. In particular, perspectives against the application of restorative justice processes to family violence overlook the fact that the criminal justice system remains a hostile institution for most victims, and that women are still not afforded a range of justice options in order to exercise their agency. In addition to these concepts, there is a need for evaluation of programs to provide empirical evidence which complements existing research on aspects of programs.

This paper describes an attempt to review the findings of evaluations of restorative justice programs that include sexual and/or family violence in their caseloads. Our goal was to synthesise results to provide evidence of what aspects of programs achieved the aims. We searched for evaluations that examined whether the program was appropriately implemented, whether their aims were specified and met, and which (if any) features of the program are effective or need improvement. Having found only one paper which met those rigorous standards, we discuss the implications of not having more evaluations, as well as the implications of not being able to conduct a systematic review.


Biography:

Daye is a PhD candidate at Monash University in the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights.

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