Evaluating a Pilot Project on Conferencing for Juvenile Delinquents

Inge Vanfraechem, Research Group on Juvenile Criminology
Lode Walgrave, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In this paper, we describe the action-research on a pilot project on conferencing for juvenile delinquents, which runs November 2000-November 2003. The youth judge refers youngsters to a conference, if they do not deny the serious facts. In the conference, the youngster and his support people, the victim and her support, as well as a police officer come together under the guidance of a facilitator to come to a solution for the crime and its consequences.

The researcher observes all conferences and uses an observation scheme to obtain some standardised information. The victim as well as the youngster and his parents are interviewed after the conference: are they satisfied with the proceedings and the outcome of the conference? Were their rights respected? Interviews are also held with youth judges, lawyers, social services of the youth court, police and facilitators. This leads to an overall view of the project, as well as the evaluation of the possible extension of the project throughout the whole of Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of belgium). We discuss the idea of action-research, the research methods used as well as the results of the research.

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Updated 05/20/2006