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Evaluation

Evaluations looking at the effectiveness of restorative justice programmes show an increase in satisfaction for both victim and offender.

Alberta Justice and Attorney General. The Conditional Sentence of Imprisonment: The Need for Amendment
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia supported conditional sentences of imprisonment as an effective and appropriate mechanism to divert minor offences and offenders away from the prison system. However, what was intended, by Parliament, as a method to address minor crime without resorting to imprisonment has become, in practice, a sanction used in cases of very serious crime. Offenders are currently receiving conditional sentences of imprisonment for crimes of serious violence, sexual assault and related offences, driving offences involving death or serious bodily harm, and theft committed in the context of a breach of trust. These provinces have agreed to jointly address this issue. To this end, Alberta has prepared this paper. It is not the existence of conditional sentences that is problematic, but rather the use of conditional sentences in cases which should result in actual jail. (excerpt)
An outcome evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative
from the research brief produced by the Minnesota Department of Corrections: To evaluate the effectiveness of the InnerChange program for male inmates at MCFLino Lakes, the DOC examined recidivism outcomes among 732 offenders released from prison between 2003 and 2009. There were 366 offenders who participated in InnerChange, had their recidivism risk assessed, and had been released from prison during the 2003-2009 period. Offenders whose recidivism risk had been assessed and had been released during the 2003-2009 period, but did not participate in InnerChange, were matched to those in the InnerChange group on commonly-known risk factors. Multivariate statistical analyses were performed to further control for other factors besides InnerChange participation that may have had an impact on recidivism. These measures were used to ensure that any observed differences in recidivism between the 366 InnerChange participants and the 366 offenders in the comparison group were due strictly to participation in InnerChange.
Archibald, Bruce P and Llewellyn, Jennifer J.. The Challenges of Institutionalizing Comprehensive Restorative Justice: Theory and Practice in Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program (“NSRJ”) is one of the oldest and by all accounts the most comprehensive in Canada. The program centres on youth justice, and operates through referrals by police, prosecutors, judges and correctional officials to community organizations which facilitate restorative conferences and other restoratively oriented processes. More than five years of NSRJ experience with thousands of cases has led to a considerable rethinking of restorative justice theory and practice in relation to governing policies, standards for program implementation and responses to controversial issues. The purpose of this paper is to explore the significance of the Nova Scotia experience to date for sustaining restorative justice beyond the pilot project stage, where a vision of community-based justice is institutionalized with the support of considerable state resources. The first part of the paper explains the genesis, structure, theoretical goals and empirical evaluation of the program to date. The second part examines some of the challenges of institutionalizing comprehensive restorative justice. The paper concludes with general observations about the broader implications for restorative justice theory and practice of the Nova Scotia experience. (excerpt)
Baffour, Tiffany D. Ethnic and Gender Differences in Offending Patterns: Examining Family Group Conferencing Interventions among At-Risk Adolescents.
This secondary study looked at the importance of ethnicity and gender in influencing the relationship between Family Group Conferencing and (FGC) recidivism. The FGC is a mediation procedure involving offenders, their families, and victims of their crimes in which outcomes of material and emotional restitution are sought. Offenders, randomly sampled to participate in a control or experimental group, were sampled via mail, telephone, and in-person interviews. Data from court records were utilized to obtain recidivism rates over an 18-month period. Multivariate analysis indicated a statistically significant difference between the re-arrest rates of FGC participants and non-participants. Female offenders were more likely to avoid arrest than their male counterparts. This study found that ethnicity was not a statistically significant indicator of re-arrest. The FGC has efficacy for juvenile offenders as (1) a cost-effective method to intervene with offenders in their own communities (2) provides alternatives to formal adjudication for vulnerable populations—females and people of color. (author's abstract)
Balfour, Gillian. Falling Between the Cracks of Retributive and Restorative Justice: The Victimization and Punishment of Aboriginal Women.
In 1996, the Canadian government introduced progressive sentencing law reforms that called for special consideration of the conditions in Aboriginal communities as legacies of colonialism and to limit the use of incarceration. At the same time, feminist-inspired law reforms sought compulsory criminalization and vigorous prosecution of gendered violence. Since that time, there has been a doubling of the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal women, and gendered violence is three and a half times greater in Aboriginal communities. Using the sentencing decisions of two cases involving Aboriginal women convicted of manslaughter, the author explores the practice of law as a site of backlash and an appropriation of feminist-inspired antiviolence strategies. The author draws on feminist and critical race studies of restorative justice in the context of gendered violence to examine why the victimization–criminalization continuum has not been fully recognized in the practice of restorative justice. (author's abstract)
Baron, Linda. Fourteen Months in a FEMA Field Office: A Special Kind of Community Mediation.
Mediating in FEMA was nothing like the court, community, and agency-based programs that I was familiar with. There were no intake forms, no dedicated mediation rooms, no established protocols or procedures, and no one knew much about mediation and conflict resolution. In most mediation programs, mediation is an alternative to something – an alternative to litigation, prosecution, investigation, or some other kind of more formal process. In FEMA, when workplace disputes become intolerable, someone is usually “released” (i.e., sent home). That person may eventually be deployed to another disaster, and might even find himself working next to the same person he had a conflict with in the last disaster. One of our tasks, as in any workplace mediation program, was to facilitate more satisfactory resolution of conflicts both for the present situation, and for t he future. (excerpt)
Burge, Sara E. and Urban, Lynn S. Victim/Offender Mediation in St. Louis: An Assessment.
This evaluation of St. Louis' Victim/Offender Mediation Program (VOM) determined whether juvenile participants had fewer subsequent referrals to the court. If the goal of VOM was to reduce the number of subsequent court referrals, it was apparently successful. Juveniles who participated in a mediation session with the victim of their offenses had significantly fewer subsequent referrals compared with juveniles who did not participate in the VOM. Although this finding confirms prior research (Nugent and Paddock, 1995; Wiinamaki, 1997), there are still many unanswered questions regarding why these reductions in referrals occurred, as well as whether mediation provides the best alternative for juvenile offenders. Victim participation in VOM was the key to a completed mediation. Although very few juveniles declined to participate in VOM after being informed about the program, a significant number of victims declined to participate or never responded to inquiries by court staff. The mission of St. Louis' VOM is to "bring juvenile offenders together with their victims in a face-to-face meeting for the purpose of sharing feelings, repairing harm, discussing the facts of the offense, and to develop restitution and restoration agreements" that benefit all parties. VOM's assumption is that by meeting directly with the victim of his/her crime, the juvenile offender becomes more aware of the harms caused by the offense and the importance of being accountable in repairing the harm and changing his/her offending behavior. Subsequent court referrals were determined from juvenile court records for those who completed the VOM (n=118), eligible juveniles who did not participate in VOM (n=434), and eligible juveniles who began but did not complete VOM (n=491). The precise length of time for these juveniles to be "available" to reoffend was unknown because of data limitations. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).
Cameron, Angela. Restorative Justice: A Literature Review
This literature review will examine whether current research shows restorative justice to be a safe, effective criminal justice response to cases of intimate partner violence in Canada. ‘Restorative justice’ will be defined in the literature review itself, through an examination of relevant literature and practice. ‘Intimate partner violence’ will be discussed as defined by British Columbia’s Violence Against Women in Relationships Policy (VAWIR). For the sake of brevity, the term ‘intimate violence’ will be used. The term “victim’ will refer generally to victims of crime, including crimes of intimate violence. The term ‘survivor’ will refer specifically to victims of crimes of intimate violence. The primary focus of this research paper will be on adults. Where available materials analyzing intersectionalities such as race, ethnicity, culture, (dis)ability, sexual orientation, age, and poverty will be included. Where there is a significant body of literature (for instance regarding Aboriginal peoples), a separate analysis will be included. (excerpt)
Choi, Jung Jin. Opening the "Black Box": A Naturalistic Case Study of Restorative Justice.
To develop an in-depth understanding of restorative justice process, this study examined multiple perspectives of the participants’ experiences of a Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) program operating in a Midwestern city. The primary data source was 34 face-to-face interviews conducted with 37 participants including adult crime victims, juvenile offenders and their parents, and service providers involving mediators and referral sources. Findings highlight that VOM helped participants put a face on crimes, which led them to acquire the unseen impact of the crimes. In general, the participants, including the victims, overwhelmingly indicated having had positive experiences. However, findings also indicated some insensitive approaches toward the victims, which reflect the offender-focused mind-set of the practitioners. This study brings forth the detailed and rich stories from an insider’s perspective on restorative justice, helping us to take a closer look at what is aptly referred to as the “black box” of restorative justice. (author's abstract)
Conflicts and in-school suspensions drop sharply at Middle School during second year of “restorative discipline” initiative
from the article on the University of Texas website: Truancy, bullying and other conflicts among students are down, and in-school suspensions have declined 75 percent at a San Antonio middle school two years after University of Texas at Austin researchers helped implement “restorative discipline” as an alternative to “zero tolerance” in dealing with these issues, according to second-year findings involving a three-year initiative. The marked improvement at Ed White Middle School in San Antonio’s North East Independent School District also was reflected by its being ranked in the top 25 percent statewide for improved progress this year, said Marilyn Armour, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work and director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue. She said the middle school made substantial gains in student school performance as measured by the number of students who passed the state exam’s math and reading components....
County of Santa Clara Family Conference Institute. Santa Clara Family Conference Model (FCM) Executive Summary
The Santa Clara family conference model (FCM) originated in 1996 as a response to the need for families to contribute to the improvement of safety and protection of children in their care. The Santa Clara FCM is a form of family group decision-making (FGDM); this FCM is an adaptation of prototypes from New Zealand and Oregon (USA). This document provides an overview of the principles and processes of FCM, as well as a summary of key findings from a four-year evaluation of Santa Clara’s FCM program. The findings cover perceptions about the Santa Clara FCM from staff members and family participants, and outcomes from FCM processes in the Santa Clara program.
Davis, Robert C.. Brooklyn Mediation Field Test.
Results are presented from a study on the effectiveness of mediation in resolving interpersonal disputes involving criminal acts. Results were consistent with other research which had also found that disputants felt better about their experience in the criminal justice system and about each other after mediation than after the traditional court process. However, the findings also suggest that mediation was no more effective than prosecution in preventing recidivism and that a great many people in felony arrest cases arising from interpersonal disputes prefer not to use mediation as the means of coping with their problems. The value of mediation, then, for the adult felony arrest cases examined lies in increasing participant satisfaction with the adjudication process. Restorative justice is defined as a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a particular offense come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offense. Using an experimental design, this study sought to determine if mediation was a more effective method of resolving interpersonal disputes involving criminal acts than was prosecution in the courts. The study examined how the mode of disposition affected victim and offender satisfaction with the process, as well as rates of reoffending. The study consisted of 465 felony arrest cases in Kings County, NY. The cases all involved persons who were acquainted, either intimate partners or other immediate family relationships. (abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov)
Dozier, Marian. Response to Violent Prone Female Adolescents: The Chicago Public School Approach.
School violence has become increasingly more prevalent among adolescent females over the last ten years. As administrators, teachers, parents, and law enforcement officials try to control and decrease the number of violent incidents that occur in our schools, adolescent females continue to exhibit inappropriate and violent behavior at an alarming rate within our school communities. Adolescent females who behave badly have historically been overlooked or ignored, as girls have often been perceived as being incapable of demonstrating hostile conduct in an academic setting.The purpose of this study was to investigate, describe, and analyze the frequency and nature of violent incidents committed by adolescent females in the Chicago Public Schools during a four year period. The findings from this study will seek to establish the severity of the problem, offer insight into possible solutions, and provide relevance for future studies. This study utilized a descriptive quantitative approach to analyzing archival data that highlighted adolescent females that committed serious Group 5 and Group 6 misconduct violations as outlined in the Chicago Public Schools student code of conduct handbook. A comparison throughout the data was conducted based upon factors such as race, age, socio-economic status, location, and disability. (Excerpt).
Evidence, outcomes & performance: 10 years of restorative justice.
from the report by Kris Miner: This report provides an overview and summary of the past 10 years of work by St. CroixValley Restorative Justice Program (SCVRJP). SCVRJP was founded in 2000, and first provided services in 2003. In 2006 the Restorative Justice Center opened in River Falls,WI. Since that time, programs have expanded and SCVRJP has developed an expertise in Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle Process.
Fagan, Jeffery. Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago
This research uses a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) initiatives on neighborhood level crime rates in Chicago. Four interventions are analyzed: (1) increased federal prosecutions for convicted felons carrying or using guns, (2) the length of sentences associated with federal prosecutions, (3) supply-side firearm policing activities, and (4) social marketing of deterrence and social norms messages through justice-style offender notification meetings. Using an individual growth curve models and propensity scores to adjust for non-random group assignment, our findings suggest that several PSN interventions are associated with greater declines of homicide in the treatment neighborhoods as compared to the control neighborhoods. The largest effect is associated with the offender notification meetings that stress individual deterrence, normative change in offender behavior, and increasing views on legitimacy and procedural justice. Possible competing hypotheses and directions for individual level analysis are also discussed. (author's abstract)
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)
Glackman, William and Cohen and Ray Corrado. and Odgers, Candice. "Serious and Violent Young Offenders' Decisions to Recidivate: An Assesment of Five Sentencing Models
"Five models of sentencing were assessed with respect to their impact on the decisions of young offenders to recidivate. The five sentencing models tested were fairness, deterrence, chronic offender lifestyle, special needs, and procedural rights. A sample of 400 incarcerated young offenders from the Vancouver, British Columbia, metropolitan area were asked questions regarding their attitudes toward these sentencing models and their intentions to recidivate after serving a period of incarceration. Principal components analyses suggested that although these models do not function independently, two composite models do shed some light on the issues that young offenders consider when contemplating their decisions and intentions to recidivate. Despite the ability of these models to predict half of the explained variance in young offenders’decisions regarding recidivism, a majority of the sample appeared to not be affected exclusively by cost-benefit analysis, punishment, or reintegrative motivations. The authors conclude that without additional variables and even higher predictive validity, it is premature for policy makers to focus on any single model of sentencing in constructing juvenile justice laws." "Author's Abstract"
Hipple, Natalie Kroovand and McGarrell, Edmund F. Family Group Conferencing and Re-Offending Among First-Time Juvenile Offenders: The Indianapolis Experiment.
In an assessment of treatment, this study examined prevalence patterns of reoffending among first-time juvenile offenders involved in family group conferences (FGC) in Indianapolis, IN.The results of the Indianapolis Restorative Justice Experiment using family group conferences (FGC) for first-time juvenile offenders were largely positive. The findings indicate that youths participating in FGC survive longer before being rearrested over a 24-month period. In addition, youths participating in conferences had significantly lower incidence rates. The results indicate the need for continued experimentation and study of the role of restorative justice practices and FGC in the justice system. Restorative justice processes and family group conferences in particular have become increasingly common in justice system practices across the world. In a family group conference, after admission of responsibility by the offender, they, the victim, and the supporters of both the offender and victim are brought together. They are brought together with a trained facilitator to discuss the incident and the harm brought to the victim. The FGC provides an opportunity for the victim to explain how they have been harmed and ask questions of the offender. This study addressed the reoffending among youths involved in FGC. Nearly 800 youths participated in the experiment and the cases were tracked for 24 months following their initial arrest. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).
Hughes, S and Schneider, A.. Victim-Offender Mediation: A Survey of Program Characteristics and Perceptions of Effectiveness
This survey of 240 juvenile justice organizations in the U.S. investigates the characteristics and effectiveness of victim-offender mediation. Mediation programs were most often governed by private/nonprofit organizations and received referrals primarily from the court or probation/intake officials. The majority of mediators were paid staff members who were almost always trained in mediation. The final contract usually involved monetary restitution to the victim, and this was monitored in most cases. Programs were not usually evaluated. In general, staff workers were less optimistic than program administrators in assessing the effectiveness of mediation, and more positive concerning the effects of incarceration and probation.
Huikahi Restorative Circles: Group process for self-directed reentry planning and family healing
from Lorenn Walker's article in European Journal of Probation: ....The Huikahi Circle is a facilitated reentry planning group process for individual incarcerated people, their invited supporters, and at least one prison representative. The incarcerated person determines what they want and the group helps her determine how best to achieve her goals. It can result in better outcomes for people leaving prison or drug treatment programs than case planning and case management where professionals make decisions for others.

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