Being young and living in economically depressed communities are the greatest risk of becoming victims of violent crime: a national survey of children between the ages 10 to 16 revealed that more than half had been victims of violence. At the same time, a study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency found that the most important factor in predicting criminal behavior on the part of teenagers was whether they had been victims of crime.
Restorative Justice Hubs are community sites (community or faith based organizations) that offer effective violence prevention and intervention strategies for court and gang involved youth and families, providing a structured and supportive atmosphere that promotes healing and pro-social development.
This article explains the creation and development of Restorative Justice Hubs created in Chicago to draw attention on this issue, their mission, vision and values, as well as on the programs they develop.
Keywords: Youth violence. Restorative Justice Hubs. Peacemaking Circles. Community. Trauma
Chicago needs viable solutions for reducing youth violence while reducing admissions into juvenile court and detention. This can best be done when communities build capacity to resolve youth crime and conflict without relying on the use of costly confinement.
The concept of Restorative Justice Hubs (RJ Hubs) was developed to meet these important goals. The RJ Hub process does so by addressing three critical questions: 1) How can communities best support positive outcomes for court and gang-involved youth? 2) How can communities best share responsibility for neighborhood safety? And 3) How can our juvenile justice resources be most effectively reinvested in those communities where youth violence is most concentrated?
RJ Hubs are a community led restorative justice approach to youth crime and conflict. Our vision is that RJ Hubs are safe spaces in the community where youth are welcomed and supported in building healthy relationships, expressing themselves, addressing trauma, and developing necessary skills and competencies. Importantly, the RJ Hub model is directly informed by the latest science on childhood trauma. It is designed as a strategy for helping people to move beyond the effects of adverse childhood experiences, guiding them towards sustainable healing and growth.
The activities of the RJ Hubs are grounded in the following five pillars (or principles), which are essential in reducing youth violence and holistically supporting young people. They are:
- A welcoming and hospitable place (Johnston Nicholson, Collins, & Holmer, 2005).
- The accompaniment of youth in their journey (Grossman & Bulle, 2006).
- Relationship building with youth and families (Connell, Dishion, Yasui, & Kavanagh, 2007).
- Relentless engagement of organizations and resources for the youth and families (Anderson-Butcher & Ashton, 2004).
- Supporting collaboration and learning with other RJ Hubs (Sabol, Coulton, & Korbin, 2004).
The RJ Hubs will be guided by the Leadership Circle, a centralized supportive structure that coordinates existing hubs and ensures the successful launch of new RJ Hubs. The Leadership Circle is responsible for creating a replicable RJ Hub model, developing a manual and orientation guide, supporting a Learning Community, providing comprehensive training on trauma, Restorative Justice and peace circles, and establishing a documentation system that evaluates intervention and service provision throughout the RJ Hubs.
The Precious Blood Center in the Back of the Yards community is an example of a successful RJ Hub. In addition, the Leadership Circle is working with the Urban Life Skills Program in Little Village and the Lawndale Christian Legal Center in North Lawndale, both emerging RJ Hubs. We anticipate also working with other groups in communities with high rates of violence as well as capacity to do RJ work such as Austin and Woodlawn.
The development of the RJ Hub model holds the promise of reducing violence in our communities and will uplift our youth to claim their full potential as irresistible forces for positive change. We believe our youths’ futures and the safety of the public depend on the implementation of Restorative Justice Hubs in communities throughout Chicago and Cook County. These RJ Hubs will serve as a powerful exemplar for other jurisdictions.
Mission and Vision
Mission: Through a restorative justice philosophy, RJ Hubs create safe and healthy community spaces where disconnected and court involved youth experience belonging, opportunity and positive transformation.
Vision: Restorative Justice Hubs create healthy and nurturing communities where youth are welcomed and supported. Youth and families are engaged in pro-social, hospitable, and supportive ways that enable youth to express themselves and be supported in becoming responsible members of their community.
This vision will be realized through:
- Using restorative justice philosophy and practices as the foundation for the RJ Hubs.
- Recognizing that violence causes trauma and trauma causes violence; hurt people.
- Community members taking the lead in creating safe and welcoming spaces within the community.
- Engaging and collaborating with community and systems resources to support the needs of youth and family.
- Building, restoring and strengthening relationships.
- Rooting hospitality and accompaniment in the mission.
- Promoting the youth’s increased connection to and sense of belonging to the community.
- Engaging in peacemaking efforts within the community.
- Advocating for the reinvestment of justice dollars to build community capacity.
- Evaluating and measuring the impact of these efforts on the safety and well being of the community.
- Practices that promote healing.
Statement of Values
- Welcoming and Hospitality
- Building Relationships with youth and families
- Relentless engagement of organizations and resources
- Collaboration and relationships with other RJ Hubs
Definitions of Pillars
Welcoming and Hospitality: providing a welcoming and safe space. Hospitality means that space is provided that welcomes youth in, that nourishes their spirits by being a place that is affirming and open to all willing to respect that space. The respect of the space is the only prerequisite to belonging to that space. Within this space, youth can expect to be provided models for positive boundaries and positive relationships with others.
Accompaniment: Young people are engaged for the long haul through mentoring and positive adult role models who engage the young person and are committed to “be there” for the youth for the long journey. Accompaniment means that a caring, responsible adult will walk through obstacles, situations, or life’s moments offering support, advice, advocacy, and education.
Building Relationships with youth and families: Engaging in peacemaking circles and mentoring to promote healing, honest communication, conflict resolution, healthy relationships, connection and a sense of belonging.
Relentless engagement of organizations and resources: The ability to effectively link youth to resources needed to be successful while maintaining a strong presence in their life.
Collaboration and Relationship with other RJ Hubs: The strength and power of a community comes from stronger relationships within and between the members of the community and their supporters. True collaboration is a process where the collaborators continue to learn and be part of a learning community
Other Supporting Values Defined
Restorative Justice: Restorative Justice in both philosophy and practice emphasizes the power and capacity of ordinary people to identify and resolve their own problems (Van Ness & Strong, 2015). RJ looks first at the harm done and then asks the question as to how that harm can be repaired. RJ recognizes that crime is more than a violation of a law; it is a violation of relationships. The RJ practice of peacemaking circles is a methodology that allows us to work with people and organizations in the community in order to provide a network of support and care, and support and accountability for youth and families in that community.
- The focus of restorative justice is repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict; engaging all parties impacted to address the harm; restoring relationships and competency; and determining a resolution that meets their needs and promotes community safety.
Community led: Real change happens within the community and when the members of the community lead the efforts. Understanding that outside providers need to support the people within the community and together build ongoing positive relationships within those communities. This must be done relentlessly among community members, stakeholders and systems because change is hard.
Understanding outcomes: The process must be measured and evaluated to better understand and describe the outcomes.
- The objective and responsible use of current research and best available data inform our decisions about practice, policy and programming in order to produce outcomes that are just and effective.
Responsibility: Recognizing the need for all members of the community and social systems to be responsible to one another; creating an environment in which accountability is valued as a means toward a more healthy community.
Safe spaces: Safe and welcoming spaces within the community are places where youth and families can experience hospitality and feel a sense of belonging.
Restorative Justice Hubs Program Plan
Restorative Justice Hubs (RJ Hubs) are the result of a collaborative effort to offer positive alternatives to youth and families who are affected by: experiencing or witnessing violence, racism, poverty, criminalization, substance abuse and illegal activity. We seek to ensure that youth who are either already court involved, or at high risk of becoming so, are given every opportunity to avoid or be diverted from the court or detention. An RJ Hub will serve as a safe, supportive, positive atmosphere that works in a trauma-informed way to prevent and mitigate court involvement, as well as to support those being released and returning to the community to receive the necessary and high quality services and resources that they need. We recognize that to support the youth, support also needs to be directed toward the family. We propose to create a network of Restorative Justice Hubs within the communities that are disproportionately affected by violence and incarceration. These hubs would be supported, evaluated and replicated through the aid of the Leadership Circle.
Crime is most likely to affect people who suffer from lack of adequate resources and who live in economically depressed communities. Young people continue to be at the greatest risk of becoming victims of violent crime, especially young men of color. Teenagers and young adults, ages 12 to 24, experience violent crime at rates triple that of people ages 25 to 49 (Rand y Catalano, 2007). A national survey of children between the ages 10 to 16 revealed that more than half had been victims of violence. A quarter of these children had been victimized the previous year (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994).
A study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency found that the single greatest factor in predicting criminal behavior on the part of teenagers was not teenage pregnancy, drug use, or truancy, but whether they had been victims of crime (Wordes & Nunes, 2002). A report of the Office for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reached a similar conclusion: violent victimization of juveniles is a critical risk factor, not only for future victimization, but also for subsequent violent offending (Shaffer & Ruback, 2002).
In short, “hurt people hurt people.”
Furthermore, violence is happening in neighborhoods that already have significant stress and strain due to economic hardships, inequality in goods and services, inadequate community support, etc. Youth are often faced both with the lack of adequate resources and isolation from the community in which they live; youth are disconnected from their schools, churches, and neighbors. They grow up with fractured relationships even with those who were traditionally their caregivers and support system.
Restorative Justice Hubs Overview
Restorative Justice Hubs are community sites (community or faith based organizations) that offer effective violence prevention and intervention strategies for court and gang involved youth and families. One of the main goals of an RJ Hub is to provide a structured and supportive atmosphere that promotes healing and pro-social development. Helping youth to express emotions in a positive way, to recognize and employ healthy boundaries, to build knowledge and skills that serve them professionally, and view themselves as active agents in their own achievement are key goals of engaging in the restorative process. All of these build a sense of overall capability.
Many traumatized youth have compromised relationships with parents and caregivers. Having access to reliable, consistent, caring adults is the basic foundation to establishing a RJ Hub. Hospitality and accompaniment are two seminal components of providing a sense of attachment and belonging for youth. Hospitality means that space is provided that welcomes youth in, that nourishes their spirits by being a place that is affirming and open to all willing to respect that space. The respect of the space is the only prerequisite to belonging to that space. Within this space, youth can expect to be provided models for positive boundaries and positive relationships with others. Accompaniment means that a caring, responsible adult will walk through obstacles, situations, or life’s moments offering support, advice, advocacy, and education.
Other key components of RJ Hubs that promote resilience are their ability to connect youth to a greater sense of community, culture, and spirituality. Traumatized youth often crave the opportunity to contribute positively, and to engage with efforts that give them a sense of purpose, satisfaction, and positive self-worth. While a spiritual link is not necessarily related to a religious experience, it is tied to a set of healing rituals, and an identity of part of a process that is sacred in its ability to affirm life as valuable and worthy of respect. This self-worth also expresses itself in greater engagement with outside linkages such as schools, recreational organizations, work, or other pro-social groups.
While many will live with scars of trauma forever, consequences of trauma are considerably diminished when trauma is dealt with in a caring and proportionate manner. RJ Hubs can offer safe places where trauma-informed circle keepers can validate experiences of youth that have been traumatized while allowing them the support and hope to create a positive vision beyond the wounds they have suffered.
The RJ Hub organization does not need to have all the resources, i.e. education, job readiness, mental health, etc., under its roof, but rather be willing to accompany the youth to connect with those resources in the community. The RJ Hub works to build strong relationships with the organizations, schools, faith-based institutions, etc. that are a part of the overall needed resources. The RJ Hub links the young person with the various resources needed to be successful while still maintaining a strong presence in his or her life.
In summary, the five pillars (or principles) of the RJ Hub Model include: 1) Hospitality, 2) Accompaniment,3) Building Relationships with youth and families,4) Relentless Engagement of organizations and resources, and 5) Collaboration and relationships with other RJ Hubs.
A Model RJ Hub
The Precious Blood Center is a faith-based organization in the Back-of-the-Yards community, a neighborhood with high rates of violence and poverty. The Precious Blood Center is an example of an RJ Hub dedicated to those youth and families who have been impacted by violence. The very core of their work is the building of strong and sustaining relationships with the young person, the families, and the organizations within the community. They engage youth who are court involved, detained in Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) through the chaplaincy program and continues that relationship once the youth is released to the community. Other youth come to the Center through outreach into the community and referrals from community members, schools, probation, organizations, etc. The youth range in age from 14 to 24 years old.
Precious Blood Center promotes restorative practices and seeks to create a restorative community in which young people are supported and honored. The philosophy and practices of restorative justice seek to bring about lasting change through the restoration of relationships that are harmed by violence. Restorative justice looks first at the harm done and then asks the question as to how that harm can be repaired. Restorative Justice recognizes that crime is more than a violation of a law; it is a violation of relationships.
The restorative justice practice of peacemaking circles has its roots in ancient indigenous practices and has been adapted for Western use. Circles are a methodology that allows us to work with people and organizations in the community in order to provide a network of support and care (support and accountability) for the youth in that community. The peacemaking circle has informed the Precious Blood Center in how they see one another and engage both the individual and other organizations. The circle offers a way to recognize and hold the common values they share and build new relationships – particularly with those impacted by conflict and violence. Precious Blood Center staff is trained in restorative justice practices and are trauma informed.
Youth involved in peacemaking circles learn empathy, accountability, honest communication, active listening, how to create safe spaces to address deep emotional issues, to build relationships and see beyond an incident or issue to the persons involved. To that end, peacemaking circle training will be provided by the Community Justice for Youth Institute to better build and sustain the relationships with youth, between organizations, as well as members of the community.
Some of the activities and gatherings the Precious Blood Center include:
Attachment and belonging:
- An environment of hospitality that allows the young person to experience a sense of belonging and welcome – seeking the young person out and welcoming the young person in.
- A weekly peacemaking circle for youth exiting the detention center, department of juvenile justice, etc., that creates an environment where youth share their story and connect with other youth who are seeking change or support in their lives.
- A mentoring program that allows mentors to accompany the youth as they seek to connect with resource offering further support and care. A mentor builds a strong and ongoing relationship with the young person and helps in securing other positive relationships in the life of the youth.
Examples of support:
- A mentor will go with a young person to get his or her ID.
- A mentor will go with the young person to enroll him/her in school.
- A mentor will help a family to find and participate in family support or counseling.
- A mentor will encourage the young person to come to the weekly circle.
- A mentor will help the young person when in need of tutoring.
These mentoring activities or tasks are seen as an opportunity to engage the young person beyond the task at hand. At the very core of the mentoring is building a positive relationship.
Community, culture and spirituality:
- programs designed to create an environment of healing through relationships
- murals and restorative art efforts to create social spaces dedicated to peace.
- theater and film that further offer a means of storytelling.
- outreach to those who have been harmed
- victims support circles
- family/mothers support circles
- accompaniment of victims and families
- a collaboration with the Cook County Juvenile Courts in:
- peacemaking circles with offender and victim
- Restitution program that uses the arts as a means to repair the harm done.
- Community service projects that allow youth to engage the community and feel a part of the community.
- a monthly meeting that brings together schools (high schools and elementary), probation, churches, faith-based organizations, civic organizations, park district, etc. with the aim to create a community where the youth are connected to needed resources.
- Programs meant to build the capacity of the young person
- job readiness and job skills
- educational guidance and support
- entrepreneurship programs
- furniture repair and decoration
As a model RJ Hub, Precious Blood Center will provide technical support to organizations interested in replicating the RJ Hub in their community.
In addition, we are working with the Urban Life Skills Program in Little Village and the Lawndale Christian Legal Center in North Lawndale, both emerging RJ Hubs. We anticipate working with other groups in communities with high rates of violence as well as capacity to do RJ work such as Austin and Woodlawn.
Restorative Justice Hubs take a Trauma Informed Approach
Adverse childhood experiences, or trauma that occurs before age 18, have been shown to have an enduring effect in life functioning, brain development, achievement orientation, and health (Felitti, 2002). Youth that commit crimes, and violent offences, in particular, are more likely to have experienced significant and traumatic adverse childhood experiences than individuals who have not experienced trauma. Working with youth that have been disproportionately affected by adverse experiences requires specific intervention that is shown to maximize positive development and resilience. Not coincidentally, these factors represent requirements, listed above, of restorative hubs. They include basic skill building, access to caring adults and greater connectedness to community, culture, positive rituals, and supports.
There are three major ways communities can nurture resilience in traumatized youth. They include building individual capabilities, attachment and belonging, and senses of community, culture and spirituality. All of these contribute to helping reverse a sense of lack of competence and safety in the world that many traumatized individuals feel. Restorative hubs offer access to these resources and skill-building opportunities.
While many will live with scars of trauma forever, consequences of trauma are considerably diminished with trauma if dealt with in a caring and proportionate manner. Restorative Hubs can offer safe places where trauma-informed circle keepers can validate experiences of youth who have been traumatized while allowing them the support and hope to create a positive vision beyond the wounds they have suffered.
In an effort to assure there is the greatest sensitivity to and understanding of trauma, this approach builds in a training program to offer trauma-informed training for all potential RJ Hub personnel. Creating an integrated approach based in the latest brain science to care for and support court-involved youth is a central focus of this endeavor.
The Restorative Justice Hubs Leadership Circle
The RJ Hubs Leadership Circle will serve as a centralized supportive structure to ensure the successful launch of new RJ Hubs, providing the technical assistance, training, evaluative oversight, resource support, a learning community and corrective feedback necessary to provide consistent quality.
The Restorative Justice Hub Leadership Circle will work to:
- Provide training and guidance to new and existing RJ Hubs
- Create, establish, and document best RJ Hub practices in an effort to create a replicable model of RJ Hubs.
- Create a manual and orientation for community agencies hoping to start their own RJ Hubs
- Create a community of learning between RJ Hubs
- Establish a documentation system that captures the core components of RJ intervention and service provision within each RJ Hub
- Provide benchmarks, feedback and training to all RJ Hub participants
- Hire a staff person to coordinate the RJ Hub Leadership Circle. A panel comprised of representatives from the Community Justice for Youth Institute, Precious Blood Center and the Adler School of Professional Psychology would choose this individual.
- The coordinator would be chosen for his or her knowledge of, and comfort with working in communities that experience high rates of violence. They will be judged based upon their experience working with community collaborations, knowledge of restorative justice and familiarity with documentation and evaluation.
A chief function of the RJ Hubs Leadership Circle is to provide guidance and training for community organizations developing RJ Hubs. Assessment and training services include:
- An analysis of existing agency mission and practices to see if they are consonant with those of restorative justice, and serving all youth
- A review of current practices to see if they are in alignment with the five pillars of the RJ Hub model: 1) Welcoming, 2) Accompaniment, 3) Building relationships with youth and families, 4) Relentless engagement of organizations and resources, and 5) Collaboration and relationships with other RJ Hubs
- Documentation training (1 day + ongoing support)
- Peacemaking Circle Training (4 day training)
- Mentoring/Accompaniment training (1 day + ongoing support)
- Social Service
- School Advocacy
- Trauma Training (1 day + follow up trainings)
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
- Psychological First Aid
- Community Organizing Training
The current organizations and key personnel responsible for administering the Leadership Circle and providing services are:
- Precious Blood Center provides technical support to prospective organizations in the replication and development of the RJ Hub Model, and supports coordination of the Learning Community.
- Adler School of Professional Psychology, Institute of Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ) provides comprehensive evaluation, documentation and training on trauma/ACES, and coordinates the development of the RJ Hub Manual.
- Community Justice for Youth Institute (CJYI) provides comprehensive training on Restorative Justice and Peacemaking Circles, as well as TA and support in facilitating circles and RJ practices, support coordination of the Learning Community and will supervise the RJ Hub Leadership Circle Coordinator (a staff person to be hired to coordinate the overall functions of the Leadership Circle).
- Circuit Court of Cook County provides restorative experiences for the Juvenile Justice Judges, State’s Attorneys, Public Defenders and Probation Officers in the courtrooms where the RJ hubs will be located. It will provide spaces for individual judges and court stakeholders and their respective communities to better understand each other’s perspectives, needs and opportunities.
- Urban Life Skills provides training support for mentoring to prospective new RJ Hub sites as well as be part of a learning community to share best practices and experiences.
- Lawndale Christian Legal Center provides training support for legal services to prospective new RJ Hub sites as well as be part of a learning community to share best practices and experiences.
The Adler School’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ), whose staff has a combined 30 years of experience evaluating violence prevention programs and other community-based initiatives, will evaluate this effort.
IPSSJ uses a participatory evaluation model that places as much emphasis on establishing sound organizational structures and processes as youth outcomes. In community-based settings, it is crucial that there is strong buy-in and readiness to implement programs in order to ensure positive outcomes. Thus, we will work with each site to ensure that outreach, collaboration, and implementation happens in a consistent manner. In addition, IPSSJ will measure numerous outcomes related to restorative justice practices. There is a wealth of evidence linking restorative justice practices with positive youth outcomes, including reduced reoffending (Bradshaw & Rosenborough, 2005; De Beus & Rodriguez, 2007), increased victim satisfaction (Strang et al., 2006), and positive school-wide outcomes such as reduced suspensions (Minnesota Department of Children, Family, and Learning, 2002). The evaluation team will work with each site to ensure that data are collected regularly and housed in a consistent database format across sites.
Site Readiness and Capacity
Prior to program implementation, the Leadership Circle will work with each RJ Hub to assess readiness and capacity using its own checklist. Interviews with key staff will be conducted to assess the following:
- Has each site had sufficient training in implementing restorative practices?
- Does each site possess the skill and capacity to welcome court-involved youth, and work with them in a trauma-informed manner?
- Does each site possess the capacity, staff, and capability to accompany youth to the community and educational services, links, and referrals that are necessary to promote positive development and growth?
- Does each site have the capacity to engage neighborhood youth and their families?
- Does each site have a space for youth participants that is open during after school hours?
- Does each site have sufficient staff to engage area youth?
- Does each site have existing relationships with area schools and organizations?
- What is the stability of the services provision of the site?
Although restorative processes are by nature dynamic, it is important that there is some consistency and fidelity to the model outlined in the grant. Thus, IPSSJ will conduct regular reviews to determine whether referrals were handled in a consistent manner by type.
IPSSJ will ensure that each site tracks the number of youth referred, the number of referrals served, and basic demographics of these individuals
This represents the most important evaluation metric, as it provides evidence of effective practice. IPSSJ will help each site collect data on the following outcomes:
- Participant satisfaction
- Positive changes in youth risky behavior and attitudes toward violence
- Positive pro-social development, including increased empowerment and social support resources
Site Collaboration Outcomes
Finally, IPSSJ will collect regular survey data to determine the degree to which all organizational partners are collaborating effectively. This survey will measure the degree to which all parties report success with referrals, implementation, shared values, shared commitment, and satisfaction with the collaboration process.
Restorative Justice Evaluations Literature Summary
Preliminary data on restorative justice provides a positive outlook. Research has indicated that restorative justice is effective in reducing recidivism rates (Bergseth & Bouffard, 2007; De Beus & Rodriguez, 2007; Braithwaite, 2005; Latimer, Dowden, & Muise, 2005; Liebmann, 2007; Sherman & Strang, 2007). Bradshaw and Rosenborough (2005) found a 26 percent reduction in recidivism rates among individuals that had completed restorative justice programs, in comparison to a 10 percent reduction in recidivism rates proffered by the traditional justice system. In schools implementing restorative programming, studies have found a significant reduction in suspensions and expulsions (Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning, 2002). Additionally, The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (2004) found that restorative justice programs promoted successful conflict resolution.
Further, victims report greater satisfaction when sentencing is diverted from the traditional justice system to restorative sentencing (Latimer et. al., 2005; Strang et.al, 2006; Sherman & Strang, 2007; Kurki, 2000). Latimer et. al. (2005), and Sherman and Strang (2007) reported that victims reported higher perceptions of fairness and greater feelings of justice through the restorative justice programs as opposed to victim reports of traditional justice programs. In schools, teachers report more satisfaction with restorative processes as opposed to suspensions and expulsions.
The benefits of restorative justice programs are proven beneficial not only for victims, but offenders also reported gains from restorative programs. Strang et. al. (2006), and Kurki (2000) found that offenders were more satisfied with restorative justice alternatives in comparison to traditional justice sentences. Further, several studies noted that offenders were more likely to comply and complete restorative sentences in comparison to traditional sentences (De Beus & Rodriguez, 2007; Latimer et al., 2005; Sherman & Strang, 2007). The Minnesota Department of Corrections (2006) demonstrated that offenders expressed a greater understanding of how their crimes hurt others, and community members felt empowered to effect the changes they see fit in their community. In addition to increased satisfaction of both offenders and victims, Sherman and Strang (2007) demonstrated the rehabilitative effect of restorative programs. They found the occurrence of PTSD and the desire for revenge was significantly reduced in offenders who had completed restorative programs in comparison to traditional programs (Sherman & Strang, 2007).
Research has not only demonstrated the efficacy of restorative justice for all parties involved, but it has also made a persuasive case for the cost-effectiveness of restorative justice programs. Since restorative justice programs often include mediation prior to trials, restorative justice programs are able to reduce court costs as well as incarceration costs. One program in North Carolina was able to reduce their court trials by two third, saving $288 per case (Umbreit, Vos, and Coates, 2006; Liebmann, 2007). A New Zealand study found a reduction in court trials from 13,000 trials prior to the implementation of restorative programming, to 2,587 trials – a reduction of more than 80%. The yearly savings in each of these cases totaled roughly $3,000,000 from a reduction in court costs alone.
In addition to the reduction in court costs, restorative justice programs have demonstrated their efficacy in reducing the costs of incarceration. Project NIA (2013) estimated that restorative programming for one individual per year cost between $444 and $8,000, while the cost of incarceration in a juvenile detention center costs on average $88,000 per individual per year. At the highest estimates, these statistics suggest an $80,000 reduction in incarceration costs per individual per year. Liebmann (2007) studied a Texas based restorative justice program and noted that the average programming costs were $450 per prisoner to implement. Liebmann (2007) reported that it cost this particular institution roughly $70,000 to incarcerate one individual per year, and deduced that the program was cost effective if it was able to help one out of every hundred participants from recidivating.
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