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Restorative Juvenile Justice in the States: A National Assessment of Policy Development and Implementation

NCJ Number
Gordon Bazemore Ph.D.; Mark Umbreit Ph.D.; Sandra Pavelka O'Brien Ph.D.
Date Published
October 2000
44 pages
This document provides an exploratory study of restorative justice in juvenile and adult justice systems in the United States.
Balanced and restorative justice, a new framework for juvenile justice reform, seeks to engage citizens and community groups both as clients and resources in a more effective response to youth crime. The approach attempts to ensure that juvenile justice intervention is focused on basic community needs and expectations. Balance is achieved when there is improved public safety, sanctioned juvenile crime, and rehabilitated offenders are reintegrated. Restorative justice emphasizes that crime damages people, communities, and relationships. Sanctioning practices include victim-offender mediation and various community decision-making or conferencing processes. A national telephone survey of restorative justice professionals was conducted. Results showed that virtually every State was implementing some aspect of the restorative justice principles at various levels and in its programs and policies. A majority of the States had crafted or revised their statutes and codes to reflect restorative justice principles and had encouraged their use in the juvenile justice system. Restorative justice reform efforts involve a number of major stakeholders both within and outside of government and often necessitate a significant role to be played by a reform initiator. Under a different approach to reform, the stakeholders are primarily governmentally related and roles are tied to traditional hierarchical and bureaucratic structures and processes. Interview respondents expressed multiple impressions of what constitutes a restorative justice program. Funding and resource availability played a mixed role in restorative justice implementation. 4 figures, 7 tables, 16 footnotes, 27 references, 2 appendices