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Restorative Justice Conferences as an Early Response to Young Offenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2001
12 pages
A evaluation conducted in Indianapolis by the Hudson Institute with funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention assessed the use of restorative justice conferences for juvenile delinquents ages 14 years or under in Indianapolis.
Implementation of the Restorative Justice Conferencing Experiment in Indianapolis began on September 1, 1997. Participants were 14 years old or younger, were first-time offenders who had committed a nonserious and nonviolent offense, had no other pending charges, and admitted responsibility for the offense. The 458 youths who took part in the experiment included 232 assigned to the restorative justice treatment group and 226 to the control group. The research used both process and outcome measures. Results revealed that the conferences lasted an average of 43 minutes, the reintegration ceremony averaged 10 minutes from the close of the conference, and conference coordinators generally followed the principles of restorative justice conferencing. Apology was included in 62 percent of reparation agreements; other common elements included monetary restitution, personal service, and community service. Victim satisfaction was higher in the conference group than in the control group. Satisfaction levels of youth and parents in both groups were generally high. The completion rate was higher for the conference youth (82.6 percent) than for the control group (57.7 percent), who were assigned to other diversion programs. Six-month rearrest rates were significantly lower for the treatment group than for the control group, but the difference at 12 months was not statistically significant. The analysis concluded that these findings and earlier research provide support for continued development of the restorative justice conference approach and experimentation with its use. Tables, figures, endnotes, and 20 references

Date Published: August 1, 2001