Beyond “what works”: For whom does restorative justice conferencing reduce reoffending?

Ms Ellie Piggott1

1Griffith Criminology Institute, Brisbane, Australia

In the 1990s, restorative justice conferencing (RJC) emerged as an alternative response to juvenile offending. Since this time, a significant body of literature has sought to determine whether participation in RJC reduces recidivism compared to traditional justice responses. However, findings remain mixed. One explanation offered for these conflicting results is the wide range of offending populations eligible for conferencing. Emerging evidence suggests that RJC may not be an effective crime reduction strategy for all offenders. Thus, there is a need for research to move beyond “what works” and determine “for whom” RJC is most effective in reducing future offending. This presentation overviews the findings of a study that assessed the impact of various socio-demographic and offending characteristics on the relationship between RJC and reoffending. Using data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s reoffending database, the study examined a longitudinal birth cohort of young offenders who had a finalized conference or court appearance in NSW between 2003 and 2011. Following the use of propensity score techniques, the matched groups were compared on four measures of recidivism over a six-year period. In this presentation, the results of these analyses are summarized. The potential implications for conferencing policy and practice are then presented, followed by directions for future research.


Ellie Piggott is a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. In 2013, she graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) from the University of South Australia. She was awarded First Class Honours for her thesis examining the effectiveness of police diversion in reducing juvenile recidivism. Since this time, Ellie has conducted criminological research across a wide range of areas including restorative justice, youth justice, prison re-entry, and domestic violence. Her doctoral research aims to determine for whom and under what circumstances restorative justice conferencing works best in reducing reoffending.


Dec 10 2021