Restorative Justice, generally considered an alternative method for addressing conflict, is based on the principles of participation, accountability, reparation, and reintegration (Latimer, Dowden & Muise, 2005). One such restorative justice practice is Victim-Youth Conferencing (VYC), which brings the victim, offender, and other stakeholders into a facilitated and constructive dialogue about the offense and its consequences, and a potential, acceptable outcome to repair the damage caused (Zinsstag & Vanfraechem, 2012; Rodriguez, 2007). Restorative conferencing programs have demonstrated recidivism reduction (de Beus & Rodriguez, 2007; Hayes, 2004; Nugent, Umbreit, Wiinmaki & Paddock, 2001). Results from a quasi-experimental study suggest that these effects remain consistent even after controlling for the youth’s age at referral, gender, race, ethnicity, history of prior offending, and whether the youth committed a property or violent offense (Bergseth & Bouffard, 2013). If we consider criteria that has been outlined as evidence-based for juvenile justice interventions (Wiener, Hobbs and Spohn, 2014), conferencing would be considered as an effective program type based on previous research because it reduces recidivism and increases well-being in young people. Moreover, restorative conferencing has been associated with other positive outcomes such as increased community and victim involvement in the justice process, greater victim and community satisfaction (Bergseth & Bouffard, 2013) and increased perceptions of procedural fairness (Latimer, Dowden, & Muise, 2005; Leonard & Kenny, 2011; Barnes et al., 2015). The implementation of restorative conferencing has increased substantially in recent decades, worldwide (Dan Van Ness, 2005; Bergseth & Bouffard, 2013), in the United States (Schiff & Bazemore, 2012; Bergseth & Bouffard, 2013), and within Nebraska. Within Nebraska, the Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution provides mediation services to citizens via non-profit mediation centers located across the state, and offers other public and community workshops, seminars, and presentations. Within the last few years, VYC has become a more widely utilized service within juvenile programming, especially within pre-filing services such as juvenile diversion. This evaluation focuses specifically on six restorative conferencing programs funded by Nebraska’s Community-based Juvenile Services Aid Program (CBA) from 2015 to 2020: (a) Lighthouse – Lancaster County; (b) The Mediation Center – Lancaster County; (c) The Central Mediation Center – Buffalo County; (d) The Central Mediation Center - Adams County; (e) Concord Mediation Center - Douglas County; and (f) Gage County MAPS (Multiple Agencies Partnering for Success). Although categorized as a restorative justice program previously, cases from the Heartland Family Services in Douglas County (n = 53) were not included in this report because the program did not include conflict-oriented interventions designed to address a specific harm caused by a youth, but instead offered classes/trainings on topics related to restorative practices (i.e., empathy building).
Cienfuegos-Silvera, Ana; Hobbs, Anne M.; Wylie, Lindsey; and Juvenile Justice Institute, University of Nebraska at Omaha, "Restorative Justice Conferencing Programs FY 2015-2020" (2020). Reports. 10.