Restorative Justice in RMA Cases
I facilitate restorative justice conferences in resource management prosecutions. A Restorative Justice conference occurs when the defendant has pleaded guilty to the offence and seeks to meet with the ‘victim’. This is known as a ‘facilitated conference’.
The use of restorative justice in resource management prosecutions is entirely voluntary but is encouraged. The court will not direct that a conference will take place but after a guilty plea is entered, it will adjourn the case to allow a conference to occur and to receive a report from it.
What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice is a process for resolving crime that focuses on redressing the harm experienced by victims, while also holding the offender to account for what they have done. View examples of cases.
What is the purpose of restorative justice?
The purpose of the restorative justice conference is to bring the defendant together with the parties most affected by the wrongdoing and to encourage them to address the harm done and ways of putting right the wrong. Where an outcome is agreed by the parties (which is almost always the case) it is taken into account by the judge in sentencing the defendant.
What are the benefits of restorative justice?
The benefits of restorative justice in these cases are well recognised and include:
- Involvement of people adversely affected by the offending, as victims or community representatives, who are able to ask questions, tell the defendant of the effects of the offending on them, receive personal apologies and participate in finding ways to put “right the wrong”.
- Deterrence achieved through public education, for example when a defendant publishes an article in a community paper or pays for advertisements about environmental projects.
- Accountability and taking responsibility (the first two purposes of sentencing under section 7 of the Sentencing Act, as well as denunciation, achieved in a direct face to face manner) (Auckland City Council v Shaw  DCR425)
- A greater emphasis on prevention than traditional court processes (for example Waitakere City Council v Stanic District Court Auckland (CRI 2004 – 090 – 005790, 10 July 2006 McElrea J.)
- Defendants able to be reintegrated into the community and acknowledged as good neighbours after completing a remedial plan.