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Evaluation Reports

The articles in this section either summarize evaluation reports or are the reports themselves.

Nelson, Sarah E. Setting the Story Straight: A Study of Discrepant Accounts of Conflict and their Convergence
It is well know that actors and observers differ in their attributions for everyday actions. While these difference in how people interpret their own and others’ behaviors are pervasive, they become particularly significant when the behavior is perceived as a transgression. The conflicting perspectives of the transgressor and victim as well as the differing judgments of responsibility and intent that follow can lead to conflict, distress, and even violence. The following three studies confirm the discrepancy between victim and transgressor attributions for a transgression, explore what happens where these conflicting perspectives come face to face, and investigate how the different parties’ “storiesâ€? of the transgression can be reconciled. In the first study, college students thought of a transgression either they had performed or of which they were the victim and provided explanations and ratings of blame, intent, and controllability. As predicted, victims and transgressors provided different explanations for the acts, and victims assigned more blame and intent than transgressors. The second two studies tested a model of conflict resolution according to which disclosure and perspective taking would lead to conflict resolution through increasing shared understanding between two parties. The second study examined audio taped mediations sessions between offenders and either their victims or community members representing the victims. The tapes were coded for instances of perspective taking and self-disclosure. Mediations involving the victim were more successful and included more self-disclosure by the victim than community member mediations. Perspective taking and disclosure behaviors of victims/community members and offenders were distinctively predictive of mediation outcomes. To more stringently test the model, a third study was conducted under controlled laboratory conditions in which roommates were audio taped discussing conflicts. Author's abstract.
Flash, Kimberly. Treatment Strategies for Juvenile Delinquency: Alternative Solutions
Social workers involved in the treatment of adjudicated youth commonly encounter youth sentenced to traditional incarceration or parole as a path to rehabilitation. This article examines alternative treatment strategies for adjudicated youth, namely Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs (often called mediation), Boot Camps, and Wrap-Around Community-Based Care, to help these youth avoid reoffending. While popular with the media, policymakers, or the general public, an evaluation of the literature makes it clear that these programs do not necessarily guarantee lower recidivism rates for program participants. It is evident that further research and evaluation must be done in order to more fully understand the drawbacks and benefits of alternative strategies, and to more appropriately help adjudicated youth and their communities. Author's abstract.
Tiemessen, Alana Erin. After Arusha: Gacaca Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda
The epicentre of post-genocide Rwandan society and politics has been the need for reconciliation to assuage ethnic tensions and end a culture of impunity. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has yet to meet its goal of reconciliation in Rwanda: The failure of the tribunal goes beyond its institutional shortcomings and can be attributed the norms of international criminal law that render it an inappropriate response to criminalizing mass violence. The Gacaca courts were resurrected in Rwanda as an indigenous form of restorative justice. The principles and process of these courts hope to mitigate the failures of "Arusha Justice" at the tribunal and seeks to punish or reintegrate over one hundred thousands genocide suspects. Its restorative foundations require that suspects will be tried and judged by neighbours in their community. However, the revelation that Gacaca is a reconciliatory justice does not preclude its potential for inciting ethnic tension it if purports to serve as an instrument of Tutsi power. The state-imposed approach of command justice has politicised the identity of the participants in Gacaca -- perpetrators remain Hutus and victims and survivors remain Tutsis. Additionally, the refusal of the Kagame government to allow for the prosecution of RPF crimes to be tried in Gacaca courts empowers the notion that Tutsi survival is preconditioned by Tutsi power and impunity. If Gacaca fails to end the perceptions of impunity in post-genocide Rwanda, it will come at a much higher cost for reconciliation than the failure of the ICTR. The relevance of justice after genocide speaks to the appropriateness of retributive and restorative models of justice in a post-genocide society such as Rwanda. Additionally, the model of justice must be reconciled to the nature of a political regime that imposes unity under an ethnocratic minority. Author's abstract.
McCold, Paul. Evaluation of a Restorative Milieu: Replication and Extension for 2001-2003 Discharges
The Community Service Foundation and Buxmont Academy operate eight school-day treatment programs, 16 residential group homes, a home and community supervision program and an intensive drug-and-alcohol treatment supervision program in southeastern Pennsylvania for adjudicated delinquent and at-risk youths. All of these programs utilize what are broadly termed "restorative practices." This researcher has coined the term "restorative milieu" because the culture comprised of many formal and informal restorative techniques and processes, not just isolated formal restorative justice interventions. This paper reports on the replication and extension of a previous evaluation, with a second wave of 858 day treatment discharges during school years 2001-02 and 2002-03. The original finding of a significant reduction in reoffending for youths participating three months or more in a CSF Buxmont Academy restorative environment was replicated with a new cohort of youths and was still evident for the original cohort at two years following discharge. (excerpt)
Beckett, Helen and Jackson, John and Campbell, Catriona and Doak, Jonathan and O'Mahony, David. Interim Evaluation of the Northern Ireland Youth Conferencing Scheme
This bulletin presents the interim findings of an evaluation of the recently introduced Northern Ireland youth conferencing initiative. The findings are based on research conducted by the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Queen's University, Belfast and focus on the functioning of the scheme in the early months of its operation, from its inception on the 1st December 2003 until the 31st August 2004. (excerpt)
Campbell, Stephanie. Supporting Community Innovators: An Evaluation of the Sexual Offender Program of Community Justice Initiatives. Kitchener, ON
This thesis is an utilization-focussed evaluation of the Sexual Offender Program of Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) of Kitchener, ON. The evaluation was guided by a steering committee consisting of program stakeholders. The main goals of the study were to examine whether the program offers Services which correspond to the program's three newly stated outcome objectives and to gain program participants' and volunteers' suggestions to improve the program services. The study also aimed to examine how well participants achieved the three program objectives. Information for the evaluation was gained through focus group interviews with program participants, telephone interviews with support persons of the program participants, questionnaires completed by program participants, and questionnaires completed by volunteer group facilitators. The assessment of the program was very positive. The findings suggested that the program services match the newly-stated outcome objectives of the program. In addition, program participants and their support persons reported that the three objectives are outcomes of the program for participants. An additional outcome of the program which was apparent in the data was the participants' "sense of belonging" and feelings of empowerment. The final conclusion of the evaluation was that the Sexual Offender program of SATP is an unique service that successfully combines the cognitive-behavioural principles of the Relapse Prevention model of sex offender treatment with a self-determining and empowering approach for its participants. Author's abstract.
Forgays, Deborah Kirby and DeMilio, Lisa. Is Teen Court Effective for Repeat Offenders?: A Test of the Restorative Justice Approach
In recent years the popularity of youth courts has grown quickly; there are currently an estimated 880 youth courts operating across the United States. These courts have shown success in offering effective judicial alternatives to first-time juvenile offenders. The current study examined whether youth courts would have the same effectiveness with second-time juvenile offenders by comparing the recidivism and sentence completion outcomes of 26 second-time youth offenders sentenced in Whatcom County Teen Court to the outcomes of a sample of first-time Court Diversion (CD) youth offenders. Participants’ Intake and Assessment Records provided information about demographic variables and details about current and previous offenses; data on sentence completion was derived from Whatcom County court records. A nine-item exit survey assessed offender’s attitudes toward teen court. Results indicate that teen court can effectively reduce recidivism among second-time juvenile offenders. For the teen court participants, sentence completion rates were high and recidivism was low at the 6-month post-court appearance. Participants also perceived teen court as fair and valuable. The findings thus indicate that youth courts have the potential to be a powerful restorative justice process, offering an effective alternative for a range of juvenile offenders. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.
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.
Community & Justice Solutions. Perspectives on the Community Justice Process in Deschutes County, Oregon: Summary of Community Interviews Conducted October - November 1997
Community & Justice Solutions initiated its collaboration with Deschutes County and NIC by conducting structured interviews with 85 Deschutes County community members and policymakers. Through this interview process, CJS intended not only to document the change process in Deschutes County, but also to provide County leaders with the opportunity to reflect on current conditions, their history of progress, and the challenges ahead as they consider the next steps in establishing a community justice system. The interviewees, who represent a broad cross-section of roles and interests, were asked about the concept and practice of community justice, where it stands today in Deschutes County, their vision for their community, strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of community justice, and what needs to happen next. Though a range of knowledge and opinion was expressed, distinct and consistent patterns emerged that are discussed in the body of this report. (excerpt)
McGrath, Jim. Restorative Practices in Education: Managing Challenging Behaviour. Evaluation Report for Southend-on-Sea Restorative Practices Project, September 2003 – July 2004
The Southend Family Group Conference Project has established itself as a core service within the Borough in the short period that it has been in operation. The introduction of Restorative Practices has further strengthened its reputation as a proactive and forward thinking service. This evaluation was a study of the first forty-eight restorative conferences to be held in the piloted Southend schools. The aim of this research is to establish the Projects success in implementing the process and the effectiveness of Restorative Practices when used to challenge unacceptable behaviour. (excerpt)
Dignan, Jim. Youth Justice Pilots Evaluation: Interim report on reparative work and youth offending teams
As part of the ongoing evaluation of the pilot Youth Justice Pilots, visits were made to each of the full YOT pilots during May/June 1999 to investigate the processes relating to victim contact, mediation and reparation work being undertaken under the auspices of the Crime and Disorder Act. Within each pilot area interviews were conducted with at least one member of the YOT with responsibility for reparation work, together with a representative from any other agency contracted to deliver reparation services to the YOT1. This brief report is intended to provide a snapshot of progress made and, in particular, to identify issues that have arisen during the first six months that the pilots have been operational. It is intended to inform the guidance that will be provided to future youth offending teams to enable them to increase the effectiveness of the reforms. The report provides an overview of restorative interventions being developed under the auspices of the Crime and Disorder Act, and progress to date in implementing the Act's victim consultation and reparation provisions. The report discusses issues relating to victim consultation and assessment, mediation, reparative interventions and the role and expectations of the courts. It also provides a summary of key policy recommendations and 'good practice' proposals suggested by this evaluation. (excerpt)
Freiberg, Arie. Innovations in the Court System
It is hard to believe that it is only five years since the first drug court opened in Sydney in 1999. Now we have drug courts in every state except Tasmania. Specialist courts such as domestic violence courts operate in South Australia, Western Australia and soon, in Victoria. Indigenous courts or jurisdictions, or forms of circle sentencing, have come into operation in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. Proposals have been floated for specialist sex courts or lists, community courts, teen courts, homelessness courts and others. In 2003, the South Australian Diversion Court, which deals with offenders with mental illness, won the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration’s award for excellence and in 2004, the same state’s Youth Court’s family conference team won the award for its work with restorative justice conferences in juvenile justice. Clearly, something is happening in, and possibly to, the court system. Some of these innovations have been have been developed by the courts themselves and some are driven by governments. In Victoria, the government has endorsed and promoted problem-solving courts in its far-reaching Justice Statement (Victoria 2004). In November 2004, the Western Australian Attorney-General, Jim McGinty referred the issue of ‘the principles, practices and procedures’ relating to problem-oriented courts to its Law Reform Commission. Among the issues that the Commission is required to examine are the relationship between such courts and case management and the manner in which these courts fit within the traditional court model. The issue of the relationship between these forms of court innovation and the criminal justice system lies at the core of the debate about the nature, and future, of problem-oriented courts. (excerpt)
Editor. Project Turnaround Expands
Bringing victims and offenders together, and reaching an agreement on how the wrong that has been done is best corrected, can achieve much more than the traditional "production line" system of justice, says Justice Minister Phil Goff. Speaking at the launch of the expansion of Project Turnaround in Timaru, the Minister said that for New Zealand's justice system to be truly effective, "we need more than simple reliance on imprisonment, because international experience shows that the best way to turn around the lives of offenders is not in prisons. Early intervention is the most effective way of preventing crime by dealing with its causes, and more is being, and will continue to be done, in this area." Mr Goff said that restorative justice was an innovative and effective way of reducing re-offending, as Project Turnaround had demonstrated. (excerpt)
Coates, Robert B and Burns, Heather and Umbreit, Mark S. Why Victims Choose to Meet With Offenders
The data-collection period covered 10 months of program activity, from January through October 2002. Forty-one of the 146 adult victims in the referral pool were interviewed. Of these 41 victims, 18 met in conference with their offenders, and 23 of them did not. Half of the victims who met with offenders during the study period participated in the study compared with 21 percent of those who did not meet with their offenders. In addition to victim interviews, six probation officers responsible for intake and referral and nine mediators/facilitators were interviewed. In order of the frequency of reason given, the following reasons were given by victims for not participating in a conference with their offenders: not worth the time and trouble involved, the matter had already been resolved, too much time had passed since the crime, just wanted the money, and complaint that the system just wanted "to slap the wrist of the offenders." For the victims who participated in conferences, the most frequent reason given was to possibly help the offender, hear why the offender did the crime, communicate to the offender the impact of the crime, and to be sure the offender would not return to commit a repeat offense. One of the most significant findings of the study was that nearly 90 percent of the victims who met with offenders reported that the meeting had been helpful, and just over 85 percent of these victims did not wish that the justice system had offered them more options or services. On the other hand, nearly half of the victims who did not meet with their offenders wished that the justice system had offered more. Some implications of these findings are discussed. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Center, www.ncjrs.org.
Dissel, Amanda. Restorative Justice Initiative Research Report on the Victim Offender Conferencing Project: November 2002 to October 2003
The Restorative Justice Initiative raised funds for a third year of Victim Offender Conferencing in its four partner sites: Alexandra Community Law Clinic, Odi Community Law Clinic, Conquest for Life in Westbury, and the West Rand Justice Centre. The project has been supported by the Open Society Foundation during the three years. The proposal sought to ensure that the VOC project would continue for a further year, but it also sought to test VOC in relation to more serious offending. The current year was intended to focus on serious offending (such as assault with intention to inflict grievous bodily harm) and domestic violence. It was also intended to pilot mediations at custodial institutions. Because the nature of cases was meant to be different, requiring more detailed preparation, the number of cases to be handled by each site was reduced to thirty cases in the year. In fact, each site was paid for 36 mediations, or three a month (a total of 144 cases). This report reviews the cases dealt with during the 2002/03 year, compares them with cases mediated in the previous two years, and reviews whether these cases did indeed fulfill the expectations of testing VOC with more serious cases and domestic violence. (excerpt)
Christian Reformed Church. Report of the committee to study restorative justice.
Synod asked us to address these questions in response to an overture brought by Classis B.C. North-West (Agenda of Synod 2003, pp. 401-22). The overture included a study of restorative justice and a set of recommendations. Synod 2003 was favorably inclined toward this overture but believed that it required clarification and amplification at key points. Specifically, synod mandated our committee to: 1.) Identify and articulate the biblical basis for the administration of justice, particularly the distinction and interaction between retributive and restorative justice; 2.) Consider the present United States and Canadian criminal justice systems and assess both, clearly describing the urgency of the present situation and giving examples of successful interventions and outcomes of restorative justice. Other applications to consider include situations of restorative justice in the home, school, and church; 3.) Recommend ways for the church and its members to learn and implement these biblical justice principles; and 4.) . . . Make every effort to submit to the churches, by the spring of 2004, a draft copy of the report, inviting response for the committee’s consideration. (excerpt)
O'Brien, Sandra. National survey looks at states’ development and implementation of restorative justice policy--Part 2
According to Sandra O’Brien, several years after restorative justice first appeared in the United States, the staff at the Balanced and Restorative Justice Project (Florida Atlantic University) embarked on a study to assess if and how restorative justice principles are being developed and implemented in all fifty states. Conducted through interviews with an appropriate person in each state between January and March 1999, the BARJ staff surveyed five key questions or areas. Hence, the results of the study are organized into five sections. Here O’Brien summarizes the findings and analysis for one question in Section 2 and for all of Section 3. Section 2 covers how restorative justice was promoted or initiated in each state. The particular question highlighted in this part of Section 2 looks at what environmental conditions influenced the policy or organizational changes. Section 3 identifies who is responsible for implementing restorative justice policy in each state and to whom restorative justice applies.
Umbreit, Jenni and Umbreit, Mark S and Greenwood, Jean and Fercello, Claudia. National Survey of Victim-Offender Mediation Programs in the United States
This report on the results of the survey provides a brief overview of the international growth of VOM. Also included in this document are the quantitative findings that emerged from the national survey of programs in the United States and a number of themes that were gleaned from the responses to open-ended questions on the survey and from conversations with the staff from the 116 programs (out of 289 programs identified) that participated in interviews.
O'Mahony, David and Doak, Jonathan. Restorative Justice -- Is More Better?: The Experience of Police-Led Restorative Cautioning Pilots in Northern Ireland
Under the two programs, juveniles (under 17 years old) who committed an offense were diverted from formal prosecution through a formal caution under a restorative justice approach. Evaluation researchers conducted fieldwork from September 2000 to April 2001. All case files (n=1,861) handled by the juvenile liaison officers in the 2 areas over the duration of the project were reviewed. Attention was given to the types of cases that came to the attention of the liaison officers and how the cases were resolved, categorized as "no further police action," "advice and warning," "caution," or "prosecution." The conferences typically consisted of the officer inviting the juvenile to state in his/her own words what they had done to warrant police action. This was usually followed with a question about the youth's motivation for committing the offense. The facilitator would then inquire about the actual and potential consequences of the act for the victim (not present), the juvenile's family, and the juvenile himself/herself. The conference would result in a cautioning agreement that might include expression of remorse, agreement to pay for damage, a written apology to the victim, and agreement to perform certain duties or engage in prescribed behaviors. Evaluators conducted interviews with 29 participants, their parents, and their victims. All participants valued the philosophy underlying the programs and viewed their implementation as appropriate and effective; however, there were two major areas of concern identified by evaluators, i.e., the risk of "net-widening" (drawing offenders into police processing who would have previously received only a verbal caution or warning from police) and the lack of significant victim participation in the programs. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.
Dowden, Craig. A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Risk, Need and Responsivity Principles and their Importance Within the Rehabilitation Debate
The effectiveness of correctional treatment programs has been extensively debated. Although the earlier literature reviews examining this topic mainly supported an antirehabilitation theme, recent research using meta-analytic techniques has provided positive support for rehabilitation. The present investigation consisted of a meta-analysis conducted on the rehabilitation literature with the goal of providing a more systematic analysis and definition of the principles of risk, need and responsivity. The goal of this project was to provide a comprehensive answer to the question 'what works'. Results indicated that each of these principles play an important role in reducing general recidivism in offender treatment populations. However, only the principles of need and responsivity maintained significant contributions to treatment success when examining violent recidivism. An appropriate treatment variable based on these principles proved highly significant in predicting treatment outcome. This construct maintained its importance when various threats to validity were introduced. Results clearly indicate that rehabilitation produces mild positive effects within an offender population However, if the end goal of the program is to evoke the highest level of behavioral change possible, the principles of risk need and responsivity must be addressed. Author's abstract.

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