Source: (2003) In, Lode Walgrave, ed., Repositioning Restorative Justice. Devon: Willan Publishing. Pp. 67-120.

In this chapter, Paul McCold surveys thirty years (1971-2001) of evaluation research of restorative justice programs. The aim is to determine what evidence exists for the probable truth or falsity of restorative justice as a credible response to crime and conflicts in society. As he cautions, public policy responses to crime should not be based on the enthusiasm or popularity of program advocates. Rather, if a justice program is effective, it should be possible to measure those effects. At the same time, he notes, the measure of success or effectiveness of a new program need not be held up to a standard of perfection. Success or effectiveness of a new program should be measured against existing practice. Hence, assessment of restorative justice programs should measure whether they are more effective or less effective compared to existing criminal justice practices. In this framework, McCold first reviews what data indicate about public satisfaction with current criminal justice and compares the data with public attitudes to restorative approaches. Then he discusses the actual assessment research on restorative justice programs.