Survey of Restorative Conferencing Practices in the United States

Mara F. Schiff, Florida Atlantic University
Carsten Erbe, Florida Atlantic University
Gordon Bazemore, Florida Atlantic University

Restorative conferencing encompasses a variety of different processes in which those most affected Restorative conferencing encompases a variety of different processes in which those most affected by a specific crime come together in a direct dialogue to discuss how to repair the harm caused by an offense. They are designed to bring together all the parties affected by a criminal event (including the victim, the offender and often community representatives as well) to discuss its impact of the crime and what should be done about it. Such processes are part of a juvenile justice system movement away from responses to crime that tend to alienate and disenfranchise youth and towards interventions that stress accountability to those harmed by the crime, as well as integration, competency development and community ownership and participation. There has been, however, a disconcerting lack of research on the nature, scope and effectiveness of such programs. This paper offers an overview of restorative conferencing/dialogue initiatives across the United States nation. Although it does not examine program effectiveness, it is designed to provide a basic summary of the extent to which conferencing/dialogue programs are operating nationwide, the types of models being used and the distribution of these models/programs. This report is intended to address some of the most basic questions about where, how and to what extent restorative conferencing/dialogue is occurring in the United States.

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Updated 05/20/2006