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Oral Language Competence and Restorative Justice Processes: Refining Preparation and the Measurement of Conference Outcomes

NCJ Number
Hennessey Hayes; Pamela Snow
Date Published
November 2013
7 pages

Given the conversational format of restorative justice conferencing processes throughout Australia's States and Territories, this paper reviews research on oral language competence (OLC) as a basis for refining preparatory work with young offenders and victims, so as to assess their capacity to communicate effectively in conference processes.


The paper concludes that young offenders entering restorative justice conferences have a high likelihood of having impaired or underdeveloped OLC. It is important, therefore, to develop valid, efficient, and systematic measures of OLC so that necessary pre-conference assessments can be made. Currently, there is a need for research on the link between OLC and restorative justice conference outcomes. With a better understanding of young offenders' language competence, they, along with victims and other conference participants, might be better prepared for the conference process. Ideally, this enhanced preparation for the conference will assist participants in having realistic expectations about young offenders' oral language competence, improve levels of overall satisfaction for victims, and lead to better outcomes. 23 references