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Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Programs, OJJDP-Funded Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2017
1 page
The objectives of this study were to synthesize high-quality, quantitative studies that evaluated the effectiveness of various restorative justice programs and also to assess the effect of different restorative justice program components.
Overall, the evidence from the reviewed evaluation studies suggests that some restorative justice programs, when compared to traditional juvenile justice approaches, can reduce future delinquent behavior and produce greater victim satisfaction with the processing of their cases; however, those studies with stronger research designs (random assignment studies) showed smaller positive results. The examination of the effectiveness of various restorative justice program types showed promising results in terms of delinquency reduction for victim-offender conferencing, family group conferencing, arbitration/mediation programs, and circle sentencing programs; however, the strength of these findings diminished in the more rigorous studies, and the findings across studies varied significantly. None of the program components analyzed had a stronger effect than other program elements, with the exception of including a pre-conference or a pre-mediation meeting. Based on the findings of this synthesis of evaluation findings, it is recommended that additional rigorous evaluations are needed to substantiate the promising effects identified. This synthesis of the research involved a meta-analysis of 41 electronic databases and 50 State websites. The systematic search for high-quality quantitative research identified 84 evaluations within 60 unique research studies.

Date Published: July 1, 2017