Restorative practices can teach, heal, repair and restore victims, perpetrators and their communities. A number of processes have been developed in social responses to offending, such as victim-offender mediation, conferencing and circles (Johnston & VanNess 2007 : 9). Restorative practices are guided by values that constrain the process to ensure it is not oppressive, such as empowerment and respectful listening; values that guide the process and can be used to measure its success, such as restoration of compassion and social support, and values which may describe certain outcomes of the process, such as remorse, forgiveness and mercy (Braithwaite 2003 ibid). These values point towards what can be restored through a restorative process, which will form the focus of this assignment. As crime harms the quality of life of all those affected, fundamentally, restorative practices should seek to restore ‘quality of life’ for those who harm others. As this is dependent upon the commitment and active participation of those most directly affected by the harm caused by crime, I will explore the methods most effective in achieving this through engagement with victims, offenders and their communities, drawing upon relevant theory, research and practice examples.
Understanding What Needs to be Restored
The Risk-Need -Responsivity Model theoretically underpins comprehensive assessments which identify and assess risks and needs associated with offending, thus pointing to the deficits that need to be restored through the intervention. This assessment determines the intensity and nature of intervention, which is matched to the offender’s learning style. Research tells suggests criminogenic needs must be addressed (McGuire 1995), whilst ‘The Scaled Approach’ indicates the level and intensity of the intervention must also be matched to risk, in order to be effective (McGuire 1995). The Good Lives Model is a more positive, strengths based approach, which seeks to promote the factors associated with desistance. Since restorative practices aim to restore to all parties that which has been harmed, damaged, or lost through crime, for those responsible for the harm, the ethos of the Good Lives Model would point towards restoration of the resources required to protect them from risks of offending (Chapman 2011 : 7). In practice, getting the young person actively involved in the assessment e.g. through use of a self-assessment questionnaire, is key to awareness raising, a protective factor in itself and a prerequisite for taking responsibility and progressing along the cycle of change’ (Prochaska & Diclemente 1984). Chapman (2011) proposes a desistance-focused model of practice which identifies four levels of intervention; reparation, reintegration, rehabilitation and restriction. I will explore the scope for restoration within each level.
Restoration through Reparation
When a person commits a serious wrong against another, an injustice arises which needs to be put right. However, simply imposing pain upon offenders is neither necessary nor sufficient to achieve this. Because crime hurts, justice should heal (Braithwaite 2007 in Chapman 2011 : 26), therefore restorative responses need to identify the damage done to victims and communities by the offender. If the offender is willing to make amends through reparation, they can restore a sense of dignity and respect, harm can be repaired, and justice, accountability, responsibility and relationships can be restored.
Repairing the harm through reparation will also change the victim and community’s view of the offender. Offenders experience widespread social exclusion, marginalisation and stigma, which labelling theory explains is causally linked to reoffending. Reparative activities such as apologies, community service or financial restitution offer ‘a way back to the table’ (Travis 1999 ibid) by giving them the chance to redeem themselves and demonstrate their value and potential. This in turn helps the offender change their own sense of identity, which is crucial for desistance; desistance is “only possible when ex-offenders develop a coherent pro-social identity for themselves (Maruna & Immarigeon 2004 : 261).”
The process of establishing role commitments as law-abiding citizens is described by Cohen (1966 ibid) as ‘getting hooked’ on a role.
“Once hooked, new identities are fashioned out of new roles. Whole bundles of behaviour inconsistent with the claims of the new self are cast aside, and new bundles …expressive or supportive of the new role are picked up. (ibid)”
This shift in identity was evident in a young person I once supported to complete community service, when he remarked one day “I used to be ‘X’ the hood, now I’m ‘X’ the worker!” Social Support theory (Cullen 1994) suggests that offenders in ongoing relationships of informal support, who have access to roles that support the creation of a legitimate identity and “help them to build new relationships that commit them to conforming behaviour,” (Maruna 2000, Bazemore 2001) will be less likely to reoffend.
Restorative practices, such as reparation, place emphasis on strengthening and restoring relationships between people. It rejects the assumption that we exist within a hierarchical order with other people or other elements of our environment (Johnston & Van Ness 2007 : 15). To live lifestyles of restorative justice, we must “abolish the self” and instead see ourselves as “inextricably connected to and identifiable with other beings and the external world (ibid).” Restorative practices such as reparation can help to restore this sense of connectedness, since stories are often told of dramatic changes in attitude in which the victim and offender recognise within the other a common humanity, as empathy develops and inner resolution takes place. The transformations that begin within themselves are described by Sulivan & Tifft (2001) as a transformation of the “power-based self to the true self, a being, a consciousness, of peace and gentleness.”
Reparation work can also help to restore a sense of agency, self efficacy and empowerment. Thus, people can meet their needs for power in their lives in a legitimate, pro-social manner, as opposed to through offending. They are transformed from receivers to dispensers of help as reparative activities ask them to make an appreciated contribution, as opposed to being a passive recipient of punishment. Reparative interventions are effective in improving victim satisfaction, reducing reoffending (Andrews & Bonta 1996 in Sullivan & Tifft 2006) and reducing crimes of retaliation (Strang & Sheman 2007? in Sheldon & McDonald 2008). Reparative activities were further found to be most effective in dealing with violent, interpersonal crimes between people, and least effective in dealing with minor property offences (Sherman & Strang 2007 : 70)?.
“Restorative Justice works better with more serious offenders. The reason why may be consistent with the apparent emotional basis for Restorative Justice: that offender remorse for having harmed a victim – perhaps especially victims ‘like them’ rather than socially distant by class, race or income – is what drives any reduction in repeat offending (ibid).”
Reparative activities such as community service were found to work best where there is contact between the offenders and beneficiaries of the service (McIvor & Raynor 1992 : 261), and those who viewed their community service as ‘rewarding’ as opposed to punishment, had higher rates of recidivism. This suggests that community service can help to restore moral values, and that its impact is more down to pro-social modelling as opposed to deterrence (Rex & Gelsthorpe 2004 ibid).
“…Contact with beneficiaries gave offenders … insight into other people … into themselves … greater confidence … and self-esteem. (opcit)”
This has been evident in my own experience with young people who complete community service at the animal sanctuary. They work alongside the owner, can see how much their help is needed, and have been involved in the care of a number of high profile cases of horse cruelty. Attendance is excellent; the young people feel good about themselves for going and often continue to attend voluntarily. One young person even took up paid employment with them, evidence of their taking on new pro-social identities. Media coverage also gave them opportunities to share stories of their involvement and develop their redemptive narrative script.
Indeed, longitudinal studies into the long-term impact of volunteer work have evidenced positive results, such as stronger ties to their communities and better academic performance; both protective factors associated with desistance (Giles & Eyler 1994 in Kerins 2010 : 29). It seems that through “working for one’s fellow citizens, the habit and taste for serving them at length is required, (Tocqueville 1956 in Chapman 2011 : 29)” as volunteerism reduces criminality through a gradual process of pro-social socialisation (Uggen & Janikula 1999). As participating in reparative activities can help to develop the offender’s intrinsic motivation towards helping, his collective involvement in doing so can help to restore a positive sense of belonging. One can meet needs for pride, fellowship and common loyalty within a pro-social group, as opposed to within the criminally active peer group. Maruna (2001) also found that motivation to ‘give something back to the community’ was one of the best predictors of whether an ex – prisoner would successfully desist from crime.
Restoration through Reintegration
Aside from any past harm offenders may have suffered, since they have often been victims of injustices themselves, offenders are also harmed by their own criminal wrongdoing, since this often serves to alienate them, or further alienate them, from their own community. Some retributive justice practices can disadvantage a person disproportionately to the harm they initially caused. Whilst theft may warrant a custodial sentence, the offender may end up paying a much higher price if that time in prison
“subsequently dooms them to a lifetime of unemployment, poverty, isolation, stigmatisation and obstacles to achievement.”( VonHirsch & Wasik 1997)
Discrimination against offenders can confine them to a permanent underclass who are excluded from legitimate means of finding income, fuelling the cycle of reoffending and imprisonment (Henry & Jacobs 2007 in Chapman 2011 : 30). Thus, reintegration is required to combat the socially disabling after-effects of being arrested and punished by the state and restore social-capital.
Reintegration and restoration of social-capital is fostered right from the outset of the conference process, since it brings together the victim, offender, their families and communities, to facilitates the process of ‘reintegrative shaming.’ Within this,
“expressions of community disapproval, which may range from mild rebuke to degradation ceremonies, are followed by gestures of reacceptance into the community of law-abiding citizens. (Braithwaite 1999 : 55).”
A response which is geared less towards stigmatising and punishing the offender, and more towards ensuring that they recognise and take responsibility for making amends for the harm they have caused, fosters such reintegration into the community of law-abiding citizens, and so reparation is also very important in helping offenders to achieve reintegration.
“Fully integrated individuals are allowed full civic and economic participation and equal rights to any other citizen.” (Chapman 2011 : 29)
Thus, reintegration helps to restore citizenship, as it seeks to break down any barriers that stand in the way of an individual’s efforts to lead a full and good life. Reintegration seeks to restore social-capital, social ties and social inclusion, as individuals are supported to access accommodation, education, training, employment, positive relationships within their families and communities and develop the social skills necessary in doing so.
Social-capital tends to be lost when we hand our problems over to professionals to solve, however that said, good practice is absolutely critical. Meetings of stakeholders may not turn out to be transformative or even restorative. They can be conducted in non-restorative ways and arrive at non-restorative results (Young 2003 in Johnston & VanNess :11), such as a now infamous conference which ended with the decision that the young offender should publicly wear a T – shirt emblazoned with ‘I am a thief’ (Braithwaite 2000 ibid); this is certainly the antithesis of reintegration.
Social integration through employment is a very strong predictor of desistance. Seiter & Kadela (2003) found vocational training and work release programs effective in reducing recidivism, with Aos (2006 in Chapman 2011 : 30) reporting a 13% reduction for those on vocational training programmes, an 8% reduction for those on industrial work programmes within prisons, a 5% reduction for those given employment training and job assistance in the community and a 5% reduction for those on basic adult education in prisons. Likewise, Lipsy (2007 ibid) also found the most effective interventions combined counselling approaches with vocational training and general education. Webster (2001 ibid) found the most effective programs were tailored to the local job market, involved local employers and were arranged before the individual was released from custody. I work alongside NIACRO Youth Employability service who have been very successful in setting up training for young people in prison, available to them immediately upon their release. This seems to restore a sense of purpose for the young people. One young person I am currently working with states categorically that his training placement is the one thing keeping him out of prison.
Social integration through the restoration of relationships is also effective in promoting desistance, as “successful personal change is strongly linked to the formation of strong, pro-social bonds. (Farrington 1996 ibid).” Restorative practices rely on the power of healthy relationships to resolve difficult situations, and many interventions are set up to target and strengthen the crucial bonds within families of those involved in offending. Travis (2003 ibid) highlights the need to recognise that “a strong family can outlast any program and can work in ways no one else can.” I work alongside NIACRO Family Links services, who provide support for families of those in custody, and I also refer many parents of the young people I work with to our own Parent Support Group. Interestingly, Sullivan (2002 ibid) suggested that interventions can be effective even if the offender is not directly worked with, highlighting the value of working with families and cautioning against working with offenders in isolation. One-to-one support programmes with offenders were found to be most effective in reducing recidivism when they were conducted both pre and post release from prison, highlighting the need for a through-care approach to resettlement. This is facilitated within my team, since one worker retains responsibility for the young person, regardless of where they move in the criminal justice system, or what order they are on.
One method which I have found to be effective in restoring social-capital is the use of Circles Support and Accountability. It seeks to support the young person to meet their goals and strengthen their relationships with family, school, employment and community through the engagement and active participation of informal resources and agencies working together as a team, including family, friends, community, school, leisure and specialist support services. As opposed to turning to offending behaviours in order to experience one’s self as a cause rather than effect, desistance can be facilitated when they find “an alternative, intrinsically rewarding source of agency and affiliation.” Thus, underpinned by the Good Lives ethos, young people are supported and encouraged to discover some sort of calling in an effort to restore meaning and purpose to their lives. The onus is on the young person to take ownership over this process, defining their goals, recruiting the members and organising the meetings, and so a sense of hope, agency, autonomy, motivation and responsibility can be restored.
The circle also functions to ensure there is accountability, not only from the offender, but from all those present. In my experience, this has been well received by young people who have often been let down by many of the adults in their lives in the past. In this respect, circles provide an opportunity for pro-social modelling of positive behaviours and values, which have been found to be effective in transforming the behaviour of offenders (Cherry 2005). Wilson (2005) compared the recidivism of 60 COSA participants against a matched control group over a 4.5 year period and found a 70% reduction in sexual recidivism and a 57% reduction in violence. Additionally, those found to have reoffended, committed less serious offences, thus research is supportive.
Restoration through Rehabilitation
Rehabilitative treatment may have to form part of the principle of justice by the very nature of the damaging effect punishment can have on some young people. A short stay in prison can leave vulnerable people with lifelong post-traumatic consequences following experiences of violence and abuse (Grounds & Jamieson 2005 in Liebling & Maruna 2005). However, for those at lower risk of offending, interventions geared towards reparation or reintegration will be sufficient to help them desist from crime and live a better life, whilst others will require a rehabilitative intervention to address emotion, cognition and self-understanding in order that they may be able to take full advantage of such opportunities.
Rehabilitation is about restoring one’s personal resources, resiliency and capabilities, to overcome obstacles in the quest for a good life. Young people are supported to address the personal issues involved in their offending e.g. drug addiction, or a predominantly pro-criminal sense of identity, through rehabilitative interventions such as narrative therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling. For instance, when addiction triggers offending, programme work with young women in particular, seeks to help them learn to deal with their feelings constructively without using drugs or alcohol. Through learning to understanding, express and cope with their feelings, they can be enabled to move further away from substance misuse and crime. Research suggests counselling sessions helped women learn to identify and express their feelings in a safe and accepting environment, and that they linked their increased capacity to understand their feelings with an ability to control them (Bonita, Christian & Martinez 2009 : 135) and thus reduce recidivism.
Offending is another common symptom of unresolved trauma, which must be addressed through rehabilitative interventions. People can become stuck in a cycle of re-enacting the trauma whereby they are compelled to repeat it through playing the role of either victim or victimiser. In this case, the goal of rehabilitative trauma therapy is about more than just not having symptoms anymore,
“…it’s about having a life, pursuing dreams and happiness…. and is especially about restoring the right to have a present and a future that are not completely dominated and dictated by the past (Saakvitne 2010).”
In practice, whilst some young people are referred to more specialist services, I have found the use of journals and life story work effective in this journey of recovery.
Whilst a number of non-systematic, exaggerated but high profile literature reviews damaged the reputation of rehabilitative interventions in the seventies, some therapies have been found to be effective. Eisenberg & Fabelo (1996) found therapeutic communities and the general provision of drug addiction treatment to be effective in reducing recidivism, whilst Drug Court programmes reduced recidivism by 14% (Latimer 2006). Sex offender treatment programmes were also found to be effective by Beech et al (1998), with 67% demonstrating a positive treatment effect after 9 months, with longer programmes even better with longer treatment times. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy research was reviewed by McGuire (2002), who found interventions typically reduced recidivism by 6 – 15%, with the most well designed programmes even managing a 20% reduction. Cognitive behavioural social skills development programmes were also found to be more effective than purely behavioural interventions. Wilson et al (2005 in Chapman 2011 : 34) reported that most positive results came from “moral recognition therapy, reasoning and rehabilitation and cognitive restructuring” programs, and interestingly, offenders with higher risk levels were the most likely to reduce recidivism. Lipsy (2007 ibid) found the most successful interventions were those that supplemented group interventions with
“one to one counselling…balancing the focus on cognitive-behaviourism, anger management and interpersonal problem solving, with more applied skills development in employment…training or education.”
Intensity was more significant than duration, however, CBT programmes with women were rated less effective, possibly due to the fact programs may have been written for men. Cognitive deficits targeted by such programmes are not necessarily factors which lead women into offending (Worrall 2000 in Goldson 2000). Research into programme effectiveness is made more difficult by widespread non-completion, and whilst those who completed had a low rate of recidivism, it may be that those motivated enough to complete the programme were those who would have been at lowest risk of offending anyway. In light of these findings, rehabilitation theory is now more focused on enhancing motivation to change through development of a therapeutic alliance between the worker and offender. The pro-social modelling approach developed by Trotter (1993) has been found to be effective in accelerating change through relationship development. Empathic, warm therapists who encourage and reward progress appear to be most effective in motivating change (Marshall 2003 in Ward & Maruna 2007 : 166). This approach summons the worker to be open, honest and able to challenge the offender in a non-blaming and optimistic manner.
The Maryland Review (1997 in Chapman 2011 : 35) further concluded that effective rehabilitative programmes are
“structured…focused…use multiple treatment components, focus on developing skills, use cognitive-behavioural methods and provide for substantial meaningful contact between treatment personnel and the participant.”
They must also be multimodal, taking a holistic approach (Gaes et al 1999) and be targeted to ensure resources are matched to risk and need, since Andrews (1990 in Chapman 2011 : 35) found high intensity interventions can actually be criminogenic for low risk offenders. Interventions must also be intensive. Risk factor research highlights the plethora of personal issues faced by repeat offenders, so interventions must address multiple needs, such as restoration of control over substance misuse, restoration of positive mental health and restoration of skills and capabilities. Furthermore, interventions must be theoretically sound (Maruna 2003 ibid) and of course motivational; if clients are not interested in the intervention, it is difficult to see how it could work (McMurran 2003). In my team, we have involved the young people in piloting programmes, using their feedback to shape their design, in order to ensure young people are likely to ‘buy in,’ which seemed to work well.
Restoration through Restriction
Restrictions can help to restore safety, control and order amidst the chaotic lives of serious and persistent offenders through use of custody, electronic monitoring, intensive supervision, surveillance and curfews. Such control strategies can encourage instrumental compliance during the intervention period to allow time for other inventions to begin to effect restoration of internal moral values. Controls are also needed to mandate attendance and engagement in interventions. It is interesting to note that those coerced into drug treatment programs were found to fare as well as those who engaged voluntarily (Farabee 1998 in Chapman 2011 : 38). Restrictions should be used sparingly, with caution and only in conjunction with reparation, reintegration and rehabilitation. They should lead to less crime, not more.
Outside of their inherent incapacitative abilities, they are not well supported by research. Custody is ineffective in reducing recidivism and can even increase it (Gendreau 1999 ibid). There is no evidence to suggest increased surveillance decreases recidivism but it does increase the likelihood of detection of technical violations (Turner 1993 ibid). Bonta (2000 ibid) found electronic monitoring also had little impact on recidivism, whilst curfewed offenders reoffended more often than control groups. Deterrence doesn’t work because punishment must be immediate, predictable and intense, which just isn’t possible within our justice system. Whilst power-coercive strategies may achieve instrumental compliance, this is not likely to promote long lasting change once the restriction has been removed (Bottoms 2000 ibid). Whilst consistent coercion may produce minimal recidivism, it does little to promote pro-social behaviour (Colvin 2002 ibid). Gendreau (1999 ibid) argues
“…punishment only trains a person what not to do. The most effective way to change behaviour is not to suppress the bad, but to shape the good…”
whilst Clarke (2000 ibid) also suggests obedience is a poor final goal of intervention, since even animals can be taught to obey! Heavy handed control tactics can also make young offenders more defiant, which is intensified if threats are made but not followed through (Colvin 2002 ibid).
Intensive Supervision Programmes which focus on support and rehabilitation, like the one I work in, have more support. We have lower caseloads, and thus can spend far greater amounts of time with individuals. Bonta (2000 ibid) reports evaluations of such schemes have fared consistently well, whilst Gendreau (2000 ibid) reports that only those with a strong rehabilitative focus are successful in reducing recidivism.
Restorative practices aim to restore to all parties that which has been harmed, damaged, or lost through crime. The Needs-Risks-Responsivity Model identifies deficits that need to be restored, whilst the Good Lives Model points towards strengths and resources that need to be restored. Reparative activities, such as apologies, community service and financial reparation can help to restore relationships, a sense of connectedness and a sense of belonging. Moral values, dignity, respect and a positive sense of identity can also be restored, as well as justice, responsibility and accountability, as the offender can makes amends for the harm caused. Community Service can especially be effective in restoring a sense of agency, self efficacy and empowerment as people turn into dispensers of help, as opposed to recipients of punishment. Reintegration restores social-capital, social ties and social inclusion, as individuals are supported to access accommodation, education, training, employment and positive relationships within their families and communities. Youth conferencing promotes restoration of social-capital from the outset, through reintegrative shaming, whilst citizenship is restored through the removal of barriers to a good life. Young people can restore a sense of purpose, meaning, hope and motivation in their lives, as they strive for a good life supported through the COSA Model.
Furthermore, rehabilitation seeks to restore one’s personal resources, resiliency and capabilities to overcome obstacles in the quest for a good life, through the likes of cognitive-behavioural therapy, therapeutic communities and Drug Court programmes. Despite the damage done to the reputation of rehabilitative interventions in the seventies, the therapies outlined above have been found to be effective. Multimodal, holistic, targeted, intense, theoretically sound, motivational interventions have the best success.
Restrictions can help to restore safety, control and order amidst the chaotic lives of serious and persistent offenders through use of custody, electronic monitoring, intensive supervision, surveillance and curfews. However, empirical evidence is poor and they should be used sparingly, with caution and only in conjunction with reparation, reintegration and rehabilitation. Desistance – focused interventions in my team tend to incorporate all four levels of reparation, reintegration, rehabilitation and restriction in line with the Scaled Approach to working with high risk offenders. I will look forward to catching sight of our own evaluation of the pilot, which finishes this year. However, in light of evidence to date, there is no doubt that with good practice, there is great scope for restoration.References
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