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Data & Evaluation

Research, Data & Evaluation for Restorative Justice is available in many forms and measures many factors like recidivism rates, victim satisfaction, restitution rates, school-based outcomes.

Restorative justice philosophies and practices typically have many moving pieces and variables, which provide challenges for program evaluation and delivering evidence-based practices. Although a one-size-fits-all approach may be somewhat antithetical to individual interventions, we believe it is nonetheless crucial to have a framework for understanding and evaluating restorative processes in order to for more formally embed the philosophy within formal justice systems. This section briefly articulates a construct and measurement of a restorative practice continuum based on the work of Howard Zehr (2002), and a model for understanding restorative interventions at multiple levels.

Zehr (2002) identified a restorative continuum ranging from fully restorative to pseudo or non-restorative based on six questions:

  • Does the model / process address harms, needs, and causes?
  • Is it adequately victim-oriented?
  • Are offenders encouraged to take responsibility?
  • Are relevant stakeholders involved?
  • Is there an opportunity for dialogue and participatory decision-making?
  • Is the model respectful to all parties?

It is clear that there is much room for advancing the evaluation of restorative justice practices. For example, more rigorous examination of the process itself and qualitative data exploring the experiences of all participants are needed to more fully understand.

There are reports with qualitative and quantitative data and some with analysis of community and school based programs. IBARJP has worked on evaluation tools with communities and schools as well as gathered information from other programs as a resource that we’ll share here. Note, this is just a collection of some notable articles on restorative justice research and data collection which is continually beginning, being updated and analyzed across the globe. To access more articles about restorative justice in communities and schools, check out our library here.

Additional articles can be found at the library of Restorative Justice Online.

School Data Collection Instruments for use by schools implementing Restorative Practices

IBARJ and Governor’s State University’s Criminal Justice Department teamed together under funding from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to establish evaluation protocols and tools for schools gauging school climate and implementation of restorative practices. We tested these tools and created a report on our findings, here’s a summary of the report and a link to the full report published in 2011. For more information about this report, the tools created in this project IBARJ or to learn more about IBARJ products and services please contact Sara Balgoyen: sarab@ibarj.org.

Overview

The report presents the results of a project funded by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) to research, test, and develop a series of data collection instruments for use by schools or school districts contemplating the implementation of restorative justice practices. The behavioral and policy issues addressed by this project concern the following: school responses to conflicts and harms that occur on school property or in the context of school activities; how schools proactively and reactively address these matters; and how restorative justice can be incorporated into school policies, practices, and activities with positive results. In order to test several hypotheses regarding the relationship between restorative justice practices and school characteristics, data on school climate, discipline policy, and school incidents were collected using different tools and methods, including the administration of a School Climate Survey to students, interviews with teachers and school administrators, collection of school administrative records, and in-field classroom observation. This research project demonstrated that it is possible to collect data from different types of schools, and from different grades and age levels, for the purposes of assessing and evaluating the implementation of restorative justice practices. In addition, this preliminary analysis of the data collected from several school districts in several different geographic locations in the state of Illinois suggests that the research instruments developed for this project (school climate surveys linked to specific hypotheses pertaining to restorative justice practices in schools, school discipline interviews, collection of administrative data, and classroom observations) can indeed detect differences by school and by hypothesis.

Click here for the full report: Full Report.

RJ White Paper

In 2011-2012, the Illinois BARJ Project (IBARJP) collaborated with the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ) at the Adler School of Professional Psychology to conduct a study on urban systems of restorative justice. IBARJP representatives surveyed agencies and schools throughout Cook County that currently implement restorative programs and practices to learn about their organizational histories, active initiatives, and collaborations with other restorative practitioners. Meanwhile, the IPSSJ collected data on restorative programs in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, so as to compare its system of restorative justice practitioners to the one in Cook County. The overall purpose of the study was to collect valuable information on local applications of restorative justice to share with policymakers, educators, and the general public. This new information is meant to encourage both mainstream awareness and increased systemic implementation of restorative justice in Cook County and beyond. The findings of this collaborative study have been summarized and assessed in a white paper written by the IPSSJ, Click here for the full report.

Additionally, this information can be found in our Cook County map. For more information please contact Sara Balgoyen: sarab@ibarj.org.

Research, Data and Evaluation Resources

IBARJP has been working on maintaining an updated list of research, data and evaluation articles and reports about restorative justice, specifically as related to juvenile justice. We have begun an annotated bibliography and are happy to share these upon request. Also, we’ve made some articles available via links here. Please feel free to contact us for more information or to submit an article for addition to the list.

All published work is public domain, but please credit all authors and institutions properly when sharing.

Schools

Are zero tolerance policies effective in schools? American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force. (2008) American Psychologist Vol. 63, No. 9, 852–862.
“Although there can be no dispute that schools must do all that can be done to ensure the safety of learning environments, controversy has arisen about the use of zero tolerance policies and procedures to achieve those aims. In response to that controversy, and to assess the extent to which current practice benefits students and schools, the American Psychological Association convened a task force to evaluate the evidence and to make appropriate recommendations regarding zero tolerance policies and practices. An extensive review of the literature found that, despite a 20-year history of implementation, there are surprisingly few data that could directly test the assumptions of a zero tolerance approach to school discipline, and the data that are available tend to contradict those assumptions. Moreover, zero tolerance policies may negatively affect the relationship of education with juvenile justice and appear to conflict to some degree with current best knowledge concerning adolescent development. To address the needs of schools for discipline that can maintain school safety while maximizing student opportunity to learn, the report offers recommendations for both reforming zero tolerance where its implementation is necessary and for alternative practice to replace zero tolerance where a more appropriate approach is indicated.” Click here for full report.

Improving School Climate, Findings From Schools Implementing Restorative Practices. Lewis, Sharon. (2009) International Institute of Restorative Practices.
In this 36-page PDF document, IIRP Director of Research Sharon Lewis presents disciplinary and other data from U.S., Canadian and British schools that have implemented restorative practices. From the pre-face: “Taken together and ‘in their own words,’ it is clear that restorative practices is having a positive effect on the lives of many students and is changing the climate of many schools.” >Click here for the full report.

Can restorative practices in schools make a difference? McClusky, G., Lloyd, G., Kane, J., Riddell, S., Stead, J., & Weedon, E. (2008). Educational Review, 60(4), 405-417.
Restorative practices (RP) developed in schools from growing international practice in restorative justice with offenders. Some schools in the UK looking for solutions to concerns about indiscipline and disaffection and violence have been enthused by its basic premise; the need to restore good relationships when there has been conflict or harm; and develop a school ethos that reduces the possibilities of such conflict arising. The approach seems compatible with the recognition of schooling as a complex task, with increasingly wider demands on schools in a diverse and changing world where teachers’ work can often be challenging and stressful. Click here for the full article.

Restorative justice and its effects on (racially disparate) punitive school discipline.David Simpson (2012) UCLA School of Law
I investigated whether the implementation of Restorative Justice significantly reduced racial disproportionality in school discipline vis-à-vis African American students. In particular, I analyzed whether the disparity in black suspension percentage as compared to white suspension percentage—measured by the difference between black suspension percentage and white suspension percentage)—was reduced by a greater amount in schools that implemented Restorative Justice than in those that did not. Click here for the full article.

Restoring School Communities: A Report on the Colorado Restorative Justice in Schools Program. Ierley, A., Ivker, C. (2003) VOMA Connections, Research and Practice Winter 2003.
This study focuses on a Restorative Justice in Schools Program conducted in the Spring of 2002 in Broomfield and Boulder, Colorado. Twenty-two cases were referred to the program, including incidents of harassment, fighting, theft, vandalism, arson, drugs, and truancy. Of the 20 conferences held, agreement was reached in each case on how to repair the harm caused by the particular incidents. Click here for the full report.

Restorative Justice: Pedagogy, Praxis, and Discipline. Brenda E. Morrison & Dorothy Vaandering (2012) Journal of School Violence.
In the ongoing effort of designing school contexts in support of proactive discipline, a range of practices and theoretical frameworks have been advanced, from behaviorist approaches to social and emotional learning. This article describes the theory and practice of restorative justice with the aim of defining this distinctive paradigm, in comparison to other forms of discipline, as one that uniquely emphasizes social engagement over social control. Click here for the full article.

Restorative Practices in Schools: Research Reveals power of Restorative Approach Part I. Porter, A. (2007) International Institute of Restorative Practices E-Forum April 27, 2007, 1-2.
Educators around the globe are using restorative practices to proactively prevent problems like bullying and violence. Research shows that restorative approaches can transform student behavior and build healthy school communities. Part I of this two-part article looks at what educators and trainers say about the benefits and strategies of implementing restorative methods. Click here for the full article.

Restorative Practices in Schools: Research Reveals power of Restorative Approach Part II. Porter, A. (2007) International Institute of Restorative Practices E-Forum June 6, 2007, 1-3.
As an increasing number of schools worldwide adopt restorative practices as a means of dealing with discipline and improving school culture, school leaders are beginning to analyze the impact of restorative methods. The numbers tell restorative methods have seen a drop in disciplinary problems, decreased reliance on detention and suspension, and an improvement in student attitudes. Gathering such data is important, both for evaluating the effectiveness of restorative methods and garnering funding support for restorative programs. Click here for the full article.

Communities

Hamilton Restorative Justice Evaluation Project 2009
The Hamilton Restorative Justice project includes an evaluation component. The objective of the evaluation is to understand the implementation of Restorative Justice amongst the partner organizations in Hamilton and to assess the impact of using Restorative Practices. Specifically the constructs being examined are Uptake, Climate, Behaviour, Attitude and Knowledge and Community Collaboration. Information from the evaluation provides a continuous feedback loop for implementation of the training. The evaluation plan includes multiple baselines within the schools and employs observations, surveys, interviews, focus groups, reflective reporting exercises, examination of disciplinary action in the school board and youth crime rates in the community. In addition to observation and training assessment, measures will be repeated annually or semi-annually in order to assess changes. Summary comments regarding training are based on purposeful observation conducted by the research team. Click here to see more.

Implementing Balanced and Restorative Justice: The Illinois Experience. Ashley, Jessica; Newman, Peter; Covey, Sharon; Gray, Donyelle L. Children’s Legal Rights Journal Vol. 24, No. 2 (Summer 2004): 22-36. Print.
“The Illinois BARJ Initiative has provided a framework and structure that will aid in the understanding and use of BARJ in communities. The Illinois BARJ Initiative gleaned some insightful inspiration from Pennsylvania’s system approach and Colorado’s grassroots approach. The Illinois initiative has chosen to incorporate concepts from each, with the goal of developing both a “top-down” or system run and “bottom-up” or community-driven, approach.” Click here for article.

Releasing Sex Offenders into the Community Through “Circles of Support”- A Means of Reintegrating the “Worst of the Worst.” Cesaroni, C. (2001).
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 34(2), 85-98. Using the philosophy of restorative justice, the Mennonite Central Committee, Ontario, created a program entitled Circles of Support and Accountability. The program attempts to return sex offenders to the community in a productive, supportive fashion while still holding the ex-offender accountable. Volunteers, primarily from the faith community, assist with practical life-skills, emotional needs and in mediation with the wider community. Most ex-offenders appear to join as a Circle as a means of self protection. All seem aware of the reality that often surrounds the release of high-profile sex offender. A number of former Circle members have indicated that they would have returned to a lifestyle conducive to re-offending had it not been for the Circles. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.

Restitution Implemented in Saanich. S.D. #63 MacGregor, Pat.
In September 2002, a pilot project to implement Restitution in a Saanich Middle School finally began. After months of planning, Community Support Volunteers were overjoyed to hear this enthusiastic response by one of their first referred students: “Wow! This Restitution is a lot better than punishment!” Click here for article.

Returning Justice to the Community: The Indianapolis Juvenile Restorative Justice Experiment. Hudson Institute Crime Control Policy Center. McGarrell, Edmund F., Olivares, Kathleen, Crawford, Kay, Kroovand, Natalie. (2000)
This report describes the implementation and the initial results of an experiment on the use of restorative justice conferences as an alternative response to early law breaking by young offenders. Restorative justice conferences bring the offending youth, the victim, and the supporters of both offender and victim together to discuss the incident and the harm brought to the victim and to the group of supporters. Conferences provide the opportunity for victims to explain how they have been harmed and to ask questions of the offending youth. Supporters of both victim and offender have the opportunity to describe how they have been affected by the incident and their concerns about the youth’s behavior. Conferences end with a reparation agreement in which all the participants reach an agreement for how the youth can make amends to the victim and the community. Click here for article.

Using Restorative Practices: Using restorative practices as an intervention for youth who commit violence and other crimes: A healing mechanism for perpetrators and their victims. Michigan Journal of Social Work and Social Welfare Volume II, Issue I. Crawford, Arika (2011)
Youth violence and crime is an occurrence that negatively affects communities across America. These destructive behaviors have raised many concerns regarding the healthy development of youth, resulting in professionals attempting to develop ways to intervene in this cycle of damaging activity and prevent re-occurrences of violence and crime among youth. This article will offer an in-depth evaluation of the history of restorative practice and how it can be used as an intervention in youth violence and other crimes. It will also look at effectiveness in the treatment of adolescent victims, their perpetrators and the implications for social work practice.

Justice System

Measuring what really matters. American Prosecutors Research Institute, Florida Atlantic University Community Justice Institute and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 12-39. Bazemore, G. (2006)
While measurement is not new to juvenile justice, too often data collected by juvenile justice agencies have been unrelated to outcomes, and have seldom allowed the public to assess performance in a meaningful way. This information has not helped juvenile justice systems and organizations determine the impact and cost-effectiveness of their interventions. It has not provided input to juvenile justice professionals regarding public awareness and support for these efforts. It has seldom provided citizens and other government stakeholders with a sense of what it is that juvenile justice systems and agencies are really accomplishing or trying to accomplish. Click here for article.

Advancing Accountability: Moving Toward Victim Restoration. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice. Bender, V., King, M., Torbet, P. (2006).
The JJDPC commissioned a series of White Papers to clarify each of the juvenile justice system’s balanced and restorative goals. As with the first one on competency development, the National Center for Juvenile Justice conducted background research and prepared the text for this White Paper. The JJDPC and a focus group of juvenile justice and allied professionals, who spent many hours discussing and debating the topic, guided the authors in this task. It is hoped that this White Paper will prompt modifications in policies and practices and change the lens through which the concept of juvenile offender accountability is viewed. Click here for article.

Doing difference and accountability in restorative justice conferences. Theoretical Criminology, 10(1), 107-124. Cook, K.J. (2006).
This article analyses social dynamics in restorative justice conferences employing two distinct meanings of accountability: one embodied in performing gendered (and other) social relations, and the second, in performing remorse. Engaging feminist theory of ‘doing gender’ and structured action, offenders’ accounts of their behavior, gendered participation of parents and community representatives are analyzed. Specifically examined are three ideals of restorative justice: empowerment, remorse and reintegration, and bridging barriers between participants. The data analyzed are from extensive field notes collected during six months of research into restorative justice in Australia and as a practitioner in Maine. Analyses reveal that achieving these ideals is more elusive than anticipated. Rather, accountability dynamics around gender, race and social class reinforce social privileges and disadvantage. Click here for more.

Restorative justice practice: An examination of program completion and recidivism. Journal of Criminal Justice, 35, 337-347. De Beus, K., & Rodriguez, N. (2007).
Studies of restorative justice programs continue to provide a review of restorative justice practice and impact. While this body of research is growing, many questions remain regarding the impact of restorative justice in reducing crime. By relying on individual and community-level data, the present study examined how offense type and poverty level influenced program completion and recidivism among juveniles in a restorative justice program. This study also examined the relationship between program completion and recidivism. Findings revealed that status offenders in the restorative justice program were more likely to complete the program and less likely to recidivate than status offenders in the comparison group. In addition, property offenders in the restorative justice program were less likely to recidivate than property offenders in the comparison group. Poverty level at the community-level had a significant influence in both program completion and recidivism. Click here for more.

What is the role of professionals in restorative justice? In H. Zehr & B. Toews (Eds.), Critical issues in restorative justice (pp. 293-302). U.S.A: Criminal Justice Press. Erbe, C. (2004).
This chapter explores critical topic areas required for an introduction to restorative justice and social work. Specifically, it seeks to answer the questions: What is restorative justice? How did it come to being? What are its present applications? Next the chapter explores the foundation of restorative justice, namely its values and principles. It then examines restorative justice as a practice and describes the major restorative justice responses such as victim-offender dialogue and interactions with juvenile offenders which brought about the field of restorative justice. The chapter includes information from theory and practice and findings from empirical studies. It then reviews both the strengths of restorative justice as described in the literature as well as the arguments made by its detractors, and postulates the next steps. Click here for more.

Justifying Restorative Justice: A Theoretical Justification for the Use of Restorative Justice Practices. Journal of Dispute Resolution Vol 2, 349-397 Gibbay, Z. (2005)
This paper analyzes the premises of the two main theories of punishment that influence sentencing policies in most Western countries—retributivism and utilitarianism—and compares them to the basic values that structure the restorative justice theory. It then makes clear distinctions between restorative justice and the rehabilitative ideal and addresses the criticism that, like rehabilitation, restorative justice results in different punishments to equally culpable offenders. The paper concludes that restorative justice does not contradict retribution and utility as theoretical justifications for penal sanctioning. Moreover, it suggests that restorative practices rehabilitate the basic notions of retribution and deterrence that have been neglected in modern sentencing schemes, that restorativism contributes new and deeper meaning to those notions and values, and that in doing so restorative justice practices improve and promote society’s response to crime. Click here for more.

Building bridges between the parole officer and the families of serious juvenile offenders: A preliminary report on a famil-based parole program. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminiology, 47(3), 291-308. Gavazzi, S.M., Yarcheck, C.M., Rhine, E.E., & Partridge, C.R. (2003).
Responding to a model of juvenile offender case supervision that called for a new intervention paradigm to guide the work of probation and parole officers, the present article reports on the use of a family-based parole initiative known as the Growing up Fast program. Developed in part as a tool for use within this new intervention paradigm, the Growing Up Fast parole program targets serious youthful offenders who have been released from juvenile correctional facilities and their families. Based on elements contained within the ‘what works’ literature and the Balanced and Restorative Justice model, this program recognizes the central role that field staff can play in rehabilitation efforts. Demographic information and formative data regarding the first set of families to participate in this program are presented, then program limitations and lessons learned as part of the initial offering of this parole initiative are discussed. Author’s abstract.

Is restorative justice taking too few, or too many, risks? In H. Zehr & B. Toews (Eds.), Critical issues in restorative justice (pp. 303-313). U.S.A: Criminal Justice Press. Gustafson, D.L. (2004).

Youth Justice Conferencing and Reoffending. Justice Quarterly, 20(4), 725-764. Hayes, H., & Daly, K. (2003).

Justice from the Victim’s Perspective. Violence Against Women, 11(5), 571-602. Herman, J.L., (2005).

Harm and Repair: Observing Restorative Justice in Vermont. Justice Quarterly, 18(4), 727-758. Karp, D.R., (2001).

Evaluating an Experimental Intensive Juvenile Probation Program: Supervision and Official Outcomes. Crime & Delinquency, 51(1), 26-52. Lane, J., Turner, S., Fain, T., & Sehgal, A. (2005).

Implementing ‘Corrections of Place’ Ideas: The Perspective of Clients and Staff. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(1), 76-95. Lane, J., Turner, S., Fain, T., & Seghal, A. (2007).

The Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Practices: A Meta-Anaysis. Prison Journal, 85(2), 127-144. Latimer, J., Dowden, C., & Muise, D.
This article provides an empirical synthesis of the existing literature on the effectiveness of restorative justice practices using meta-analytic techniques. The data were aggregated from studies that compared restorative justice programs to traditional non-restorative approaches to criminal behavior. Victim and offender satisfaction, restitution compliance, and recidivism were selected as appropriate outcomes to adequately measure effectiveness. Although restorative programs were found to be significantly more effective, these positive findings are tempered by an important self-selection bias inherent in restorative justice research. A possible method of addressing this problem, as well as directions for future research, are provided.

Does restorative justice challenge systemic injustices? In H. Zehr & B. Toews (Eds.), Critical issues in restorative justice (pp. 381-389). U.S.A: Criminal Justice Press. Lofton, B.P. (2004)

An Exploratory Evaluation of Restorative Justice Schemes. Crime Reduction Research Series (Paper 9). Miers, D., Maguire, M. Goldie, Sharpe, K., Hale, C., Netten, A., Uglow, S. Doolin, K., Hallam, A., Enterkin, J., Newburn, T. (2001)

Listening to victims- A critique of restorative justice policy and practice in the United States. Federal Probation, Volume 68. Mika, H. (2004).

Restorative justice and the development of empathy, remorse and moral disengagement in adolescent offenders. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 64(10-B) 5256. Mulford, C.F. (2004).

Family group conferences in youth justice. Health and Social Care in the Community, 16(3), 262-270. Mutter, R., Shemmings, D., Dugmore, P., & Hyare, M. (2008).

Restorative Conferences Reduce Trauma from Crime, Study Shows. International Institute of Restorative Practices E-Forum Aug 15, 2006, 1-2. www.iirp.org Porter, A. (2006)

Restorative Justice at Work: Examining the Impact of Restorative Justice Resolutions on Juvenile Recidivism. Crime & Delinquency, 53(3), 355-379. Rodriguez, N. ( 2007).

A Restorative Justice Approach to Empathy Development in Sex Offenders: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, 29(2), 96-109. Roseman, C.P., Ritchie, M., & Laux, J.M. (2009).

Balanced Approach and Restorative Justice Efforts in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Prison Journal, 81(2), 187-205. Seyko, R.J., (2001).

Restorative Justice, The Evidence. The Smith Institute. Sherman, Lawrence T., Strang, Heather.

Repair or revenge: Victims and restorative justice. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. Strang, H. (2002).

Victim Evaluations of Face-to-Face Restorative Justice Conferences: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis. Journal of Social Issues, 62(2), 281-306. Strang, H., Sherman, L., Angel, C.M., Woods, D.J., Bennett, S., Newbury-Birch, D., et al. (2006).

Justice and forgiveness: Experimental evidence for compatibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1538-1544. Strelan, P., Feather, N.T., & McKee, I. (2008).

Advancing Community Protection: A White Paper for Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice. Torbet, P. (2008).

Integrating the restorative and rehabilitative models: lessons from one family group conferencing project. Contemporary Justice Review, 12(1), 59-75. Zernova, M. (2009).

International

Persistence and desistence: Examining the impact of re-integrative shaming to ethics in Taiwan juvenile hackers.  Computer Law & Security Review, 25(5), 464-476. Kao, D., Huang, F.F., & Wang, S. (2009).

Youth Justice in New Zealand: Restorative Justice in Practice?  Journal of Social Issues, 62(2), 239-258. Maxwell, G., & Morris, A. (2006). 

Situating and researching restorative justice in Great Britain.  Punishment and Society, 6(1), 23-46.   Miers, D.  (2004). 

Community Based Restorative Justice in Northern Ireland. Mika, Harry.

Restorative Justice: A Paradigm Shift in the Thai Criminal Justice System.  Corrections Today, 66(7), 86-91. Ua-amnoey, J., & Kittayarak, K. (2004). 

Restorative justice: two examples from New Zealand schools.  British Journal of Special Education, 34(4), 196-203.  Wearmouth, J., McKinney, R., Glynn, T. (2007).