Family conferences are a form of restorative justice. They take their origin from the traditions of the indigenous population of New Zealand - Maori. For most of the Western model of Maori justice was barbaric, and is not justified. They argued that the Western system seeks to punish rather than to solve the problem. Evidence of this is also apparent in how difficult it is to clear your name after being charged with a crime. In their view, the final decision was imposed by the state, rather than taken as a result of negotiations, all parties concerned. Neither the family nor the community is not involved in the process, leaving the guilty alone with his problem.
Thus, as a result of discussions in 1989 the New Zealand Government passed a law "On Children, Young Persons and Their Families." On the basis of the law of the case brought by the commission of crimes by juveniles are transferred to the police to deal with Marital conference. Instead of hearing in the court social worker organizes a meeting of the victim and the offender - Marital conference. The meeting also attended by family parties, distant relatives (especially in single-parent and dysfunctional families), and authoritative people in the community. In addition, the meeting may be invited, and social workers, friends, teachers, etc. During the meeting, all participants are entitled to express their feelings, explore the facts and find common solutions to problems, including - to compensate the victim caused the damage. And most importantly - a decision must be unanimous.
Family conferences bring a lot of people. However, it is the family opened a full opportunity to make it easier for the offender inflicted harm. Hard to meet the offender to the victim, but even harder to look into the eyes of their parents. Since the offender is a member of the family, the conference provides an opportunity to support it. During the discussion, the family develops a coherent strategy for future action and encourages the offender to take responsibility and, if possible, correct the evil inflicted, and thus gives it to feel support.
As part of the family law conference is used as an alternative to the court (before adjudication of guilt) and on the stage prior to sentencing (after adjudication). They also create opportunities for an alternative system for the recognition of responsibility for their actions and, therefore, applicable at the stage of adjudication. As a result, it was shown that the mechanism of a family conference may be used as part of the formal justice system.
A very striking feature of the model family of the conference is the extensive use of solutions involving local communities, which leads to a subsequent reduction in the number of young people in state prisons. In this regard, and because of its focus on informal procedures for the New Zealand model is able to yield positive results over time. In New Zealand, the family conferences are functioning so well that about 80% of criminal cases closed after meetings.