Steps in the Restorative Justice Conference Process


The defendant pleads guilty to the charge/s. The parties agree to hold a restorative justice conference prior to sentencing. The case is adjourned to allow time for the restorative justice conference to take place.

The parties appoint a trained facilitator.

The parties agree who needs to attend the conference and an invitation is sent out to all affected parties inviting them to a meeting, usually to be held two weeks out from the date of the invitation. (The local authority will have representatives at the meeting, including  any enforcement officers involved and the defendant should have support people with him/her).

Restorative Justice Conference Meeting

The meeting is usually in two phases:

Phase One

The meeting commences with a welcome by the facilitator, and explanation of the purpose of the meeting and is possibly followed by a karakia or prayer where appropriate. The summary of facts and a general explanation of the background is then read out or paraphrased by the prosecuting authority. If there are aspects of the summary which are not agreed then the defendant gets an opportunity to specify those matters. There is then an opportunity for all the other participants at the conference to outline their concerns regarding the offence, followed by a response by the defendant.

Phase Two

This stage of the process involves an exploration of a possible means of reparation or redressing the harm. All options need to be explored and ideally, an agreement is reached on an outcome or plan to be provided to the sentencing judge by the facilitator. The meeting is closed.

On occasions a second meeting needs to be convened for the parties to finalise or agree an outcome or plan. This occurs where outcomes are identified at the first meeting but there is a need to develop them and to confer with experts or other stakeholders before they can be agreed.

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