Restorative Justice: An unwanted invitation for tea and biscuits?
On 6 December 2014 legislation mandating the consideration of restorative justice prior to sentencing was brought into effect. If an offender pleads guilty in the District Court to an offence where there is one or more identifiable victims then their case must be assessed to see whether a meeting between the offender and victim should be arranged, whereby both parties can discuss the cause and impact of the offending. Critics have been quick to comment on the “mandatory” nature of the legislation, the perception that it is “offender driven” and have highlighted the fact that participation by the offender may lead to a more lenient sentence. This essay responds to recent media reports which criticised the new legislation for the reasons noted. A particular focus is the idea that restorative justice is offender driven and therefore contrary to the purported philosophy of placing the victim at the centre of the justice system.