In this study, George Mason University conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative research to examine the effectiveness of restorative justice programs in reducing recidivism and improving other outcomes for offender and victim participants. Restorative justice programs seek to repair relations and end discord between youthful offenders and their victims. These types of programs view crime as a violation of people and relationships. They emphasize offender accountability for wrongdoing, respect for participants, and keeping the victim central throughout the process as a way to repair the relationship between the offender and victim and reduce future delinquent behavior. Practices consistent with this approach, such as restitution, are common in the juvenile justice field, and practitioners who have a more complete understanding of the use and potential impact of these types of programs and practices can apply them more effectively.
This project was funded under the Assessing the Impact of Juvenile Justice Reforms Program, which supported research and evaluations to investigate whether certain juvenile justice policies and practices produce better outcomes for youth, improve public safety, and/or achieve a greater return on taxpayer investments.
Goals and Objectives:
The research team conducted a meta-analysis on a broad sample of randomized and quasi-experimental studies that evaluated the effectiveness of restorative justice programs relative to more traditional juvenile court processing. Eligible studies included evaluations of programs that fully adopted a restorative justice model, as well as those that implemented one or more restorative justice features.
The study had the following objectives:
- Analyze the findings from evaluations of restorative justice programs to determine if there was an effect on outcomes related to future delinquent behavior, victim and offender satisfaction and perceptions of fairness, and offender behavioral outcomes, such as restitution and production of apology letters.
- Examine which components of restorative justice programs are most effective.
The project completed screening for eligible studies across a variety of databases and websites, full text coding and review of selected studies, data extraction of relevant factors from the studies, and analysis of effect sizes using meta-analysis methods. The study concluded and OJJDP posted the final technical report in July 2017.
Publications and Products:
OJJDP-Funded Research in Brief: Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Programs
Final Technical Report: Wilson, D.B., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2017. Effectiveness of restorative justice principles in juvenile justice: A meta-analysis: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/grants/250872.pdf.
Benjamin Adams, Social Science Analyst
Benjamin.Adams@usdoj.gov | 202-616-3687
David B. Wilson, Ph.D., Professor
George Mason University, Department of Criminology, Law and Society