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Police officer facilitated versus civilian facilitated family group conferences: Does it matter who the facilitator is?

Hipple, Natalie Kroovand
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Dissertaion submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Criminal Justice, Indiana University.

Family group conferencing is a form of restorative justice that brings together the offender and victim, along with supporters for both, to try and find a way to repair the harm done by the offender’s actions. Two dominant models of family group conferences have emerged: the Wagga model of police officer facilitated conferences and the New Zealand model of civilian facilitated conferences. While there are volumes of literature about restorative justice and family group conferencing, there is no research specifically comparing the two family group conferencing models. This research addresses this gap in the literature. Using data from the Indianapolis Restorative Justice Experiment, this research compares conferences facilitated by police officers (n = 83) to those facilitated by a civilian (n = 132) along several dimensions such as process, perceptions of fairness, reparation agreements, recidivism, and time until failure. Generally, there appeared to be no major differences between conferences based on facilitator type. Based on observations, police officers lectured offenders more during the family group conference and made more suggestions as to what should be in the reparation agreement. Interviews indicated that youths attending civilian facilitated conferences perceived the conferences and the conference coordinator to be somewhat fairer than youths who attended police officer facilitated conferences. However, none of these differences appeared to negatively affect the youth. Youths who attended police officer facilitated conferences recidivated less and “survived” longer before recidivating than youths who attended civilian facilitated conferences although these differences were not statistically significant. Theoretical and policy implications for family group conferencing programs are discussed as well as directions for future research. (author’s abstract)


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