Thinking Hard About Measuring the Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Programs

Heather Strang, Australian National University

The extraordinary growth of interest in restorative justice both as an alternative and as an addition to normal criminal justice processing is widely recognised. This brings with it an obligation to test RJ programs as rigorously as we can to ensure that ƒ€˜feeling rightƒ€™ does not become a substitute for ƒ€˜doing rightƒ€™. It has been suggested that evaluating RJ programs is a more than usually difficult task because of the sometimes undefined nature of the intervention and the diverse and multiple objectives many espouse. In addition RJ programs are guided by values which may need also to inform the evaluation. The paper will discuss the processes by which realistic and useful outcome criteria can be arrived at, while acknowledging the special issues that need to be considered in restorative justice, and how relevant and appropriate methodologies for addressing the outcome criteria can be employed.

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Updated 05/20/2006