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Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Principles in Juvenile Justice: A Meta-Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2017
145 pages
This study systematically reviewed all available research that, at a minimum, compared participants in a restorative justice program to participants processed traditionally by the juvenile justice system.

The distinctive feature of restorative justice programs is the objective of addressing the causes of the offender's delinquent behavior while remedying the harms caused to the victims. A fundamental component of restorative justice programs is some form of dialog or interaction between the offender and the victim or a victim surrogate, with some programs extending participation to family and community members. Examples of restorative justice programs include victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, and sentencing circles. Also, some routine practices of the juvenile justice system such as restitution are consistent with restorative justice principles, and some programs incorporate some aspect of the framework, such as teen courts. This systematic meta-analysis of evaluation research on restorative justice programs identified 99 publications, both published and unpublished, reporting on the results of 84 evaluations nested within the 60 unique research projects or studies. From these studies, the meta-analysis extracted results related to delinquency, non-delinquency, and outcomes for the youth and victims participating in these programs. Overall, the evaluations of restorative justice programs and practices showed a moderate reduction in future delinquent behavior relative to more traditional juvenile court processing; however, these results were smaller for the more credible random assignment studies, which raises concerns about the robustness of this overall result. Additional high quality research of such programs is warranted, given the promising but uncertain findings. 14 tables, 30 figures, and search notes

Date Published: May 1, 2017