Desistance and Restorative Justice: mechanisms for desisting from crime within restorative justice practices


Promoter: European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ)

Partners: Conférence permanente européenne de la probation (CEP), Institut für Rechts- und Kriminalsoziologie (IRKS, Austria), Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC, Belgium), Médiante (Belgium), Neustart (Austria), Queen’s University (GB) and Youth Justice Agency of Northern Ireland (GB).

Supervisor of project: Prof Dr Ivo Aertsen
Coordinator of project: Dr Katrien Lauwaert

Duration: 24 months (01/01/2013-31/12/2014)

Funding: This project is funded by the European Commission – Criminal Justice Programme – JUST/2011/JPEN/AG/2962.

Summary of project: Although many studies have shown that participation in restorative justice programs often reduces the likelihood of reoffending, it remains unclear why this is the case, for which groups and under which conditions. The general aim of this study is thus to gain insight in the mechanisms within restorative justice practices that can contribute to desistance from crime and thus reduce victimisation.
Starting from the factors identified in the desistance literature in general, this study will develop a conceptual framework for analysing restorative justice and desistance, which will then be empirically tested in three European countries.

Main research question: What impact does restorative justice have on desistance from crime?
Specific sub-questions are:
– Which mechanisms within restorative justice practices produce positive subjective changes that help sustain abstinence from criminal offending?
– Which mechanisms within restorative justice practices produce positive social changes that help sustain abstinence from criminal offending?
– For whom and under which conditions do these mechanisms work?
– Which restorative justice practices have the largest impact on desistance from crime?

The project is coordinated by the European Forum for Restorative Justice, but three other European research institutions actively participate in the research (KULeuven, Queen’s University and IRKS). In addition, three organisations from practice collaborate with the respective research institutes in the empirical part of the research (Neustart in Austria, Youth Justice Agency in GB and Médiante in Belgium). The research will result in a final report and a good practice guide. A special effort will be made towards the dissemination of the project results through the network of the partner organisations, the organisation of three regional workshops (Belfast, Leuven, Vienna) and an international conference (Belfast).

If you would like more information on the project, please contact Katrien Lauwaert at [email protected]

Feel free to download the research report and guidelines in a .pdf format from here.