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Restorative Practices and Reoffending
Recently, a short article in The Report (1) questioned Canada's use and support of restorative justice programmes. The article quoted a claim in the May issue of Canadian Lawyer that after five years of use there was no proof that restorative justice programmes work. However, recent research has demonstrated that restorative justice programs do in fact reduce recidivism.
Restorative Justice Theory and Practice: Mind the Gap!
Theo Gavrielides, a researcher at the London School of Economics, recently completed a qualitative investigation of possible discrepancies between the implementation of restorative justice practices and the development of restorative justice theory.
Transforming Attitudes Towards Offending
The Sycamore Tree Project® is an in-prison programme bringing unrelated victims and offenders together for conversations about crime. The programme allows them to reflect together on the consequences of crime and the steps needed to address the harm that has resulted.
Crystal Taub and Jenny Aguliar and Liliane Cambraia Windsor and Marilyn Peterson Armour. A Pilot Study of a Faith-Based Restorative Justice Intervention for Christian and Non-Christian Offenders
As prison populations continue to rise, faith-based and restorative justice programs show promise in influencing offenders' internal motivations and external behaviors. Using a one-group, pretest-posttest design, this pilot study found significant change in offenders' (n=102) moral motivations (empathy, perspective taking, forgiveness, proneness to forgive, daily spiritual experiences, and relationships with others) after their self-selected participation in a 14-week faith-based program that draws from the principles of restorative justice. Hierarchical regression models were used to examine the impact of reported subscription to Christianity on pretests and score changes. At pre-test, Christian participants (n = 66) were more likely to forgive than non-Christian participants (n = 33) who conversely were more likely to see the perspectives of others, Christian offenders had significantly higher change scores on perspective taking and empathic concern than non-Christian participants. Findings have implications for the use of faithbased programs and victim-centered curriculums to change offenders' moral motivations and for matching faith-based Christian programs with Christian participants.
Sedelmaier, Christopher M and Gaboury, Mario T and Monahan, Lynn Hunt. Preliminary evaluation of behavioural outcomes in a corrections-based victim awareness program for offenders.
This article follows up on an earlier study that found significant improvements in three of four knowledge and sensitivity factors measured in offenders who participated in an impact of crime on victims “victim awareness” program. The current study investigated behavioral outcomes in a similar study population, namely disciplinary infractions that occurred while participants continued their incarceration. Findings indicated that African-American adult males in the treatment group exhibited significantly fewer A-level (most serious) disciplinary problems than did their comparison group counterparts, while all other subgroup comparisons did not yield such significant differences. This result, although limited to one subgroup, remains both interesting and useful given that African-American males are typically overrepresented in correctional populations and given the seriousness of the offenses at issue here. Reducing the frequency of serious infractions, and therefore these additional victimizations, is critical to the safety of both inmates and correctional officers. (abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).
Minnesota Department of Corrections. Restorative justice program evaluation: fiscal year 2005 report
Beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2004, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) has collected survey data that measure the perceptions of offenders, victims, and community mem-bers who have participated in state-funded restorative justice (RJ) programs. Participants were administered pre- and post-test surveys immediately before and after the RJ meeting and were later mailed a final follow-up survey. During FY 2004 and 2005, survey data were collected from 1,706 participants on the pre-test, 1,588 participants on the first post-test, and 385 on the follow-up survey. This report presents the results from the survey data, which are summarized below. (excerpt)
Institute for Health and Human Services Research. "Evaluation of restorative justice in Leon County Neighborhood Justice Center."
This report consists of an evaluation of a program in Leon County, Florida, to apply restorative justice strategies with juvenile and adult offenders. The strategies include conferences for victim-offender mediation, offender awareness of the impact of crime on a victim, and involvement of community members in sanctioning. Based on a balanced and restorative justice approach, the program’s principles include accountability to the victim, competency development for offenders, and community or public safety. The report surveys the balanced and restorative justice concept, program objectives and procedures, program activities to implement the principles, and evaluation research method and findings.
Miers, David and et al. Exploratory Evaluation of Restorative Justice Schemes
This report presents the results of a 15-month study of the effectiveness of seven British restorative justice (RJ) schemes conducted between December 1999 and June 2000, two of them dealing primarily with adult offenders and the other five with juveniles. The objectives of the research were to identify which elements, or which combination of elements, in RJ schemes were most effective in reducing crime and at what costs, as well as to provide recommendations on the content of and best practice for schemes to be mainstreamed. Following an initial feasibility study, fieldwork for the main body of the research began in December 1999. The main elements of the fieldwork were the collection of descriptive information about the schemes' status, history, philosophy, policies, and practices; and the collection and analysis of process and output data about the practical operation of schemes, the impacts of the schemes, data relevant to measuring outcomes, and data relevant to the determination of cost-effectiveness. The schemes evaluated were diverse in their understanding of the notion of "restorative Justice," their degree of focus on victims and offenders, and their implementation of the interventions which they undertook. The schemes were also fragile in being vulnerable to funding cuts, and they were often dependent on intensive labor commitments by small numbers of exceptionally committed individuals. Even at the times when they were receiving substantial numbers of referrals, most schemes made unambiguously "restorative" interventions in relatively few cases. Victims who had experienced some form of restorative justice were broadly favorable toward the concept, appreciating the opportunity to express their views and experience some restoration based on offender action.
Minnesota Department of Corrections. Restorative Justice Program Evaluation: Fiscal Years 2004-2007
Beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2004, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) has collected survey data that measure the perceptions of offenders, victims, and community members who have participated in state-funded restorative justice (RJ) programs. Participants were administered pre- and post-process surveys immediately before and after the RJ meeting and later were mailed a final, follow-up survey. Between FY 2004 and FY 2007, survey data were collected from 4,598 participants on the pre-process survey; 3,986 participants on the post-process survey; and 1,135 on the follow-up survey. This report presents the results from the survey data, which are summarized below. (excerpt)
Crew, Benjamin Keith and Johnson, Sarah Emily. Do victim impact programs reduce recidivism for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated? Findings from an outcomes evaluation.
In victim impact panels, persons convicted of driving while intoxicated are confronted by survivors of accidents caused by drunk drivers. The objective is to reduce the number of subsequent convictions by increasing empathy with victims and increasing awareness of the seriousness of the consequences of drinking and driving. Participation in a victim impact course was not found to consistently reduce reoffending in a sample of persons convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. More specifically, program participants were just as likely to reoffend as non-participants and sometimes more likely. (author's abstract)
Frank, Cheryl. Missed Opportunities: The Role of Education, Health, and Social Development in Preventing Crime
This monograph assesses the policies, programmes and services provided by the Departments of Education, Health and Social Development, and explores the potential of these for impacting on social crime prevention in South Africa. This study is primarily a policy review that begins with a descriptive overview of crime prevention, and maps some of the central debates in crime prevention. This is followed by a description of intergovernmental relations and government financing of the services under review. The policies, activities and programmes of the Departments of Education, Health and Social Development are then explored individually. In this regard, an overview of each department’s key policies and priorities is provided, and this is followed by a discussion of that department’s programmes that relate to the issue of crime prevention. This discussion is followed by a chapter that deals with the issue of groups that could be specifically targeted for crime prevention, including those targeted by the departments under review, i.e. children, women, youth and older persons. The monograph concludes with a discussion and set of recommendations based on the preceding assessment. (excerpt)
Alden, Chris and Parsons, Imogen and Porto, J Gomes. From Soldiers to Citizens: The Social, Economic and Political Reintegration of Unita Ex-Combatants
This study focused on the experiences of former combatants in Angola attempting to reintegrate into their communities. It asked several major questions: what contributes to or hinders reintegration? Without targeted support, how successful is the reintegration process for former combatants? How different is the reintegration experience of former combatants than the reintegration experience of internally-displaced persons? What is the relationship between identity and reintegration? And what does reintegration look like in the face of weak government support structures? Thus the study examined many aspects of the reintegration process for former combatants.
O'Dwyer, Kieran. A program of restorative cautioning by the police in the Republic of Ireland
This paper presents an overview of findings from recent and current evaluations of restorative justice initiatives for young offenders in the Garda Siochána, the national police service of the Republic of Ireland. The restorative interventions are of two kinds, both of which occur under the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme. The first involves the victim in formal cautions and offers the possibility of apology and reparation. The second provides for family conferences that operate in much the same way as restorative cautions but go on to discuss the offending behaviour in more depth and develop action plans to avoid a recurrence. The paper addresses the place of the initiatives in the Irish criminal justice system and presents relevant results from evaluations of 83 cases. Among the issues raised are: case selection (criteria, suitability, barriers to greater use), the voluntary nature of participation and the type of outcomes achieved. Author's abstract.
Umbreit, Mark S and Bazemore, Gordon. A Comparison of Four Restorative Conferencing Models by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
"This chapter focuses on four restorative conferencing models: victim-offender mediation, community reparative boards, family group conferencing, and circle sentencing. Although these four models by no means exhaust the possibilities for community involvement in decisions about how to respond to youth crime, the models do illustrate both the diversity and common themes apparent in what appears to be a new philosophy of citizen participation in sanctioning processes." (excerpt)
Zemlyanska, Vira and Koval, Roman. Introducing Restorative Justice in the Ukrainian Justice System
The Ukrainian Centre for Common Ground is a non-governmental organization working to build capacity for constructive conflict resolution. Since 2003, it has been engaged in an initiative to introduce restorative justice into the Ukrainian justice system. The project includes training mediators in victim offender mediation and policy makers in restorative justice. Roman Koval and Vira Zemlyanska provide this update on the project's progress.
Forget, Marc. Restorative justice in prisons: An evolution from Victim Offender Mediation in 1998, to a restorative prison wing in 2001, to a holistic, multi-sector project in 2004.
The three projects that are highlighted in this presentation were selected because they represent a very broad spectrum of restorative approaches applied to the prison environment. Each of these 3 projects is in a different phase of implementation. The first project is the oldest (1998), and provides a lot of evaluative data; the second project has been operating for 4 years and is currently undergoing its fist evaluation; the third project is the newest, and not all aspects of its programs have been implemented yet. (excerpt)
Joseph, Wanda. Restorative Justice: A Report from El Salvador.
With the support of a mini-grant from the Victim Offender Mediation Association, I traveled to Salvador with the SHARE Foundation for eight days at th ened of March 2005. The focus of the Share delegation was the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. SHARE Fondation has worked in El Salvador since 1981, accompanying and supporting the people as they fled the death squads and providing spiritual, physical and financial support as they rebuilt their lives and communities after the war. They continue the work to help communities find means to reclaim basic human rights, fundamental civil liberties, and degraded environments. (excerpts)
Miers, David and et al. Polish Restorative justice and practice in Poland and Britain: Report of a British and Polish Academies' exchange initiative (International Co-operation on the Implementation of Restorative Justice in Poland and Great Britain).
This Report has been compiled from the activities that have been organised as part of a three-year project funded by the British Academy and the Polish Academy of Sciences. Its purpose is to exchange information and experience about the use and effects of restorative justice and victim-offender mediation for both adult and juvenile offending. The Report includes reflections on Polish practice, and papers given by Polish and British experts. It is intended to inform colleagues (in whatever capacity) working with restorative justice and victim offender mediation of developments within Poland and Great Britain. The project is set in the broader context of the various European developments that have taken place over the past decade. Articles 10 and 17 of The European Union’s Framework Decision on the Standing of Victims in Criminal Proceedings, which oblige Member States to adapt their legislation in order to promote victim-offender mediation by March 2006, is of particular relevance. The Polish criminal justice system’s responses to crime are, in the case of restorative justice interventions, less well developed than in Great Britain. From the Polish perspective, the principal objective of this research proposal is to gather information about the design and delivery of such interventions for the purpose of informing their own initiatives.
Rowe, Wendy E. A Meta-Analysis of Six Washington State Restorative Justice Projects
Building on the balanced and restorative justice approach to juvenile crime, Washington State in 1997 began funding projects rooted in restorative justice concepts and principles, such as victim-offender mediation, victim impact panels, and community accountability boards. In 1999 the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (GJJAC) asked how these programs are affecting communities and justice agencies dealing with juvenile crime, and whether the programs are effective. Accordingly, reviews of existing restorative justice projects in several counties were undertaken. This document summarizes the activities and accomplishments of six restorative justice projects in those counties. It is part of a meta-review of the extent to which community restorative justice has been implemented in Washington State. Additionally, this document includes a report on a recidivism study conducted among a representative number of juvenile offenders in the state. The study compares outcomes for those who underwent restorative interventions with outcomes for those who did not.
Strehorn, Molly Ryan. Restorative Probation in Franklin County, Massachusetts: A Qualitative Evaluation
In Franklin County, MA, Restorative Probation, which began in 1996 serving residents of the county through the courts, is a partnership program under the Reinventing Justice Project. Restorative Probation is an alternative rehabilitation program in which offenders meet with a group of community volunteers, the victim, and anyone else impacted by the crime. Restorative justice is used around the world to heal the relationships damaged by crime. With the main goal of restorative work to heal relationships damaged by crime, it is extremely difficult to measure its outcomes through evaluation. Since its inception in 1996, Restorative Probation has not had a formal assessment. This qualitative evaluation of Restorative Probation concentrates on the impact that the program has on offenders. A survey was utilized which concentrated on the probationers who successfully completed the program in the past 4 years. The evaluation indicates that the program is making great strides in the process of healing the relationships damaged by crime. The key values provide a solid framework for programs such as Restorative Probation to offer holistic approaches to community justice. The implementation of the Reinventing Justice project in Franklin County shows strong community activism and willingness on the part of the civic leaders to try new methods. Recommendations were presented on ways to improve Restorative Probation. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.

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