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Evaluation Report of the Juvenile Mediation Program

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 26 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2001 Pages: 1-2,22
Robert R. Smith; Victor S. Lombardo
Date Published
October 2001
3 pages
This article provides an evaluation of the Juvenile Mediation Program in West Virginia.
Mediation is a process in which a neutral individual helps parties in settling and negotiating a dispute. The Juvenile Mediation Program, which serves six counties in West Virginia, works with school-age children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 and their families and/or guardians. The adolescents involved are status offenders, truants, or have committed nonviolent crimes. Established in 1997, the program includes a staff of a program director, program coordinator, and two case managers. The voluntary program is not considered a formal legal process. The mediator’s responsibilities include deciding the sincerity of the accused juvenile’s remorse, determining a fair and just penalty for his or her wrongdoing, and concluding if any services are necessary. The juvenile’s admission of guilt is required if a crime is involved. A waiver of rights is signed, relinquishing the rights permitted at legal proceedings, such as having witnesses or lawyers present. Letters of apology, community service, tours of juvenile detention centers, and monetary restitution are typical sanctions for nonviolent crimes. When all contractual requirements are satisfied, the mediator notifies the appropriate probation office. If the mediation fails, a social service agency, the court, or both take further action. The key element of the mediation program is built upon citizen volunteer mediators who are carefully screened and trained by program staff. A chi-square analysis was used to compare participant successful contract resolution versus unsuccessful contract resolution frequencies for 670 participants across all counties served from July 1, 1997, through September 30, 2000. Conclusions drawn from the evaluation are that the program significantly and positively resolves juvenile offenses without court involvement and participants’ perceptions of the mediators’ skills are positive. The program represents a best practice that has State, regional, and national implications such as high success rates and cost-effectiveness. 4 tables