Source: (2005) In Elizabeth Elliott and Robert M. Gordon, eds., New Directions in Restorative Justice: Issues, Practice, Evaluation. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 278-295.
The main criteria for participation are that the juvenile accepts the charges and that the crime is serious. A facilitator contacts the offender, the victim, and their respective networks of supporters. At the conference, all parties are introduced and their respective roles are described. The investigating police officer reads the facts of the case and ascertains whether the offender agrees with the statement. Based on the offender’s acknowledgement of the facts of the case, the conference continues. The victim and his/her supporters and the offender and his/her supporters explain what effect the offense has had on them. The offender and his/her supporters can then have a private meeting to discuss possible resolutions that will address the harms caused by the offense, taking the victim’s needs and wishes into account. The underlying causes of the offender’s criminal behavior are also addressed. An agreement is developed for the purposes of repairing the harm to the victim and to society. A judge must confirm the agreement to make it official. The evaluation obtained data from judicial records for 58 juveniles who participated in conferences. Conference facilitators also completed questionnaires. New crimes were recorded for 22 percent of the juveniles; however, most of the new crimes were not committed for several months after completing the conference, and the new crimes were less serious than the one that was the subject of the conference. Overall, participant satisfaction was high, but improvements are needed in the police role, facilitator training, making the victim’s role more central, and expanding the practice throughout the country. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov.
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