Source: (2005) Criminology & Public Policy. 4(1): 131-148.

Although this essay is by no means a criticism of the research, the question "who do we reintegrate" is of course a loaded one that also seems to raise other important policy, practice, and theoretical questions not easily answered by this study. First, little clarity or agreement in the field exists about the meaning and dimensions of "reintegration," although it is almost certainly a larger, more complex concept than would be implied by the absence of criminal behavior (Maruna, 2001). Second, is being referred to a neighborhood restorative program a good thing that implies a benefit to a young offender? If not, the question of implied bias in selection for this program seems moot, although the evidence provided from this research and at least one additional related study of restorative justice conferencing at the diversion level (McGarrell, 2001) suggests that there may be benefits to participation in such programs.i Finally, if the program, as these findings suggest, does reduce reoffending, why is this? Although logical connections between intervention and outcomes are seldom made explicit in most practice or evaluation research, it is important for policy aimed at replication to begin to speculate about the theoretical components that distinguish this restorative process from other diversion programs and from other restorative decision-making programs. The primary purpose of this response is to situate this research and its findings in a larger public policy context. I will focus primarily on the broader implications of these findings for assessing the strengths and limitations of both restorative and community justice policy and practice, especially as it is implemented in juvenile justice systems. (excerpt)