Are Restorative Justice Conferences Effective in Reducing Repeat Offending? Findings from a Campbell Systematic Review

Lawrence W. Sherman, Heather Strang, Evan Mayo-Wilson, Daniel J. Woods, Barak Ariel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: This paper synthesizes the effects on repeat offending reported in ten eligible randomized trials of face-to-face restorative justice conferences (RJCs) between crime victims, their accused or convicted offenders, and their respective kin and communities.

Methods: After an exhaustive search strategy that examined 519 studies that could have been eligible for our rigorous inclusion criteria, we found ten that did. Included studies measured recidivism by 2 years of convictions after random assignment of 1,880 accused or convicted offenders who had consented to meet their consenting victims prior to random assignment, based on “intention-to-treat” analysis.

Results: Our meta-analysis found that, on average, RJCs cause a modest but highly cost-effective reduction in the frequency of repeat offending by the consenting offenders randomly assigned to participate in such a conference. A cost-effectiveness estimate for the seven United Kingdom experiments found a ratio of 3.7–8.1 times more benefit in cost of crimes prevented than the cost of delivering RJCs.

Conclusion: RJCs are a cost-effective means of reducing frequency of recidivism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Conferencing
  • Meta-analysis
  • Recidivism
  • Restorative justice
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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