Source: (1998) Paper presented to the Second Annual International Conference on Restorative Justice for Juveniles, Florida Atlantic University, and the International Network for Research on Restorative Justice for Juveniles, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., November 7-9.

The recent development of police officers conducting community conferences for juvenile offenders has created concern among restorative justice advocates. This paper considers the potential dangers and benefits of police-facilitated conferences in light of recent empirical evaluations of restorative policing and earlier evaluations of criminal mediation programs in the U.S. and Canada. Results demonstrate that police are capable of conducting such programs in a highly restorative manner. Police conferences were rated higher than mediation programs on participant satisfaction and sense of fairness. The advantages of police operated restorative program include direct access to cases and a much lower operational cost. Police can become important stakeholders in the restorative justice movement. There is a need for future program evaluations to use consistent measurements to confirm these findings, but initial evidence suggest the concerns raised pose a greater threat to some criminal mediation programs than to police-facilitated conferencing programs.

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