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Journal of Socio-Economics 33 (2004) 175188

Restorative justice: an alternative approach to juvenile crime


Catherine L. Lawson a, , JoAnne Katz b,1
a

Department of Economics, Missouri Western State College, 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507, USA b Department of Criminal Justice/Legal Studies, Missouri Western State College, 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507, USA

Abstract This paper examines restorative justice, a new approach to the problem of juvenile crime, from an economic point of view. Advocates assert that the personal, social, and economic harms inicted by many juvenile crimes are more adequately repaired through mediated face-to-face conferences between victims and offenders than through the conventional disposition of juvenile cases. Parallels between this conception and key elements of the economic model of crime are reviewed, followed by an application of the concept of social capital to this process. We conclude with a brief review of early empirical evidence suggestive of the promise of this new approach. 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
JEL classication: D74; K42 Keywords: Juvenile crime; Restorative justice; Social capital

1. Introduction Within the discipline of economics, discussions of juvenile crime or other criminal justice issues generally proceed from the economic model of crime developed by Gary Becker (1968). Consistent with the neoclassical theory of rational choice, this model emphasizes the role of incentives in shaping criminal behavior and in providing levers for the conduct of public policy. Variations in the probability of apprehension and conviction, as well as in the severity of punishments, are analyzed as the primary means by which authorities attempt to inuence the level of criminal activity. Other variables affecting behavior, such as those that describe the values or the psychological state and motivations of criminal offenders

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-816-271-5826; fax: +1-816-271-5871. E-mail addresses: lawsonc@mwsc.edu (C.L. Lawson), katz@mwsc.edu (J. Katz). 1 Co-corresponding author.

1053-5357/$ see front matter 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.socec.2003.12.018

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or their victims, are not necessarily excluded, but are treated as phenomena not capable of rigorous analysis and measurement and, thus, not of primary interest in the formulation of public policy. A recent application of this model to the problem of juvenile crime is found in Steven Levitts (1998) comparative study of juvenile and adult punishment rates for crimes committed over the period 19781993. During this time, juvenile arrest rates for violent crime rose at almost three times the adult rate. This pattern occurred against the backdrop of a growing reluctance to incarcerate juveniles but a substantially increased willingness to incarcerate adults. Levitt found that changes in the relative incarceration rates of juveniles and adults accounted for approximately 60% of the differential in crime rates. He is careful to point out, however, that despite this evidence, increasing the incarceration rate of juveniles may not produce a net benet to society given the disproportionately high costs of juvenile connement. An alternative interpretation of increased juvenile crime rates focuses on a kind of moral decay, a fundamental absence of an understanding of right and wrong, and an inability to defer gratication evidenced in a certain segment of the youth population, producing what economist John DiIulio (1996) refers to as the young, urban street predator. This perspective suggests a need to move beyond a narrow focus on incentives to consider broader patterns of social organization that inhibit or encourage criminal behavior. While this example emanates from a thinker on the conservative side of the political spectrum, it mirrors concerns of traditional liberal thinkers and social scientists in elds outside of economics who wish to focus on root causes of crime and on theories of choice that are less narrowly focused on rational decision variables. An example of this latter view is Schneider and Ervins study (1990) of how choices to engage in criminal behavior may arise from rules of thumb adopted on the basis of perceptions of self and of the moral status of the behavior.2 In the arena of practice, the relatively young movement calling for a restructuring of the criminal justice system in a manner that ensures balanced and restorative justice appears to be gaining ground, both in the US and abroad. It is argued here that this approach offers an understanding of crime and justice that may help to straddle the theoretical divide between the differing perspectives delineated above. While the theory and practice of restorative justice has not been studied by economists, to our knowledge, its salient features appear to be consistent with some of the fundamental tenets of the Becker model, while at the same time providing the foundation for a broader social perspective on the criminal justice system. The restorative justice paradigm is reviewed below, followed by a brief discussion of its areas of agreement and disagreement with the economic model of crime. The notion of social capital is then introduced to provide a potentially more useful theoretical construct for
Based on their ndings, Schneider and Ervin conclude that the most important choices made by juvenile offenders have already occurred by the time they face decisions about whether or not to commit specic crimes and these choices concern the juveniles self-perception as good citizen versus lawbreaker. Beyond this point, the specic context associated with each potential criminal event exerts the major inuence, implying that . . . perceptions of certainty and severity [of punishment] may change dramatically whenever a specic crime opportunity is considered. In contrast to a stable, predictable cost/benet calculation, simple rules of thumb are employed such that the opportunity may be evaluated either as a sure thing (and carried out) or as a certain loss (and foregone) (p. 599).
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modeling restorative justice. The paper concludes with a brief review of some preliminary empirical evidence from restorative justice experiments in Missouri. 2. Restorative justice Restorative justice programs in the US are modeled on programs begun in the 1970s and 1980s in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere, as well as on certain features of Japans criminal justice system and cultural practices. While there are a variety of different forms that restorative justice programs take, an essential feature of all of them is that the victims of crime play an important role in the criminal justice process. This is a departure from the norm in the US, where victims traditionally have little say in the criminal justice system and court proceedings. In the usual situation, victims may serve as witnesses, providing details about the crime and their losses, but they rarely have an opportunity to confront those who have harmed them or to suggest ways that offenders can be held accountable. Restorative justice programs offer an alternative by providing a face-to-face meeting between the victim of a crime and the offender in a safe, structured environment. The session is facilitated by a trained mediator, who may be a police ofcer, a volunteer from the community, or a professional staff member of the court. During the course of the mediation session, the victim tells the offender about the impact of the crime. This could include a discussion of the loss itself and of the victims rage at being violated, as well as a recounting of the repercussions of the crime, such as loss of income from being off work or the erosion of ones personal sense of safety and security. The offender, who is typically very uncomfortable sitting across the table from someone he or she has harmed in some way, explains how and why he or she committed the crime. Then together, the victim and the offender decide how the offender can make amends to the victim. Restitution might involve paying for nancial losses with earnings from a job, performing some kind of community service work, or taking on specic tasks that would benet the victim. A written document outlining the terms of the agreed restitution is signed by both the victim and the offender. Individuals close to and supportive of both the victim and the offender are generally present at such meetings, and may or may not play an active role in the discussion. Early empirical work evaluating restorative justice programs has focused on the restitution agreements, and their unusually high completion rates, as the primary outcome of this approach to juvenile crime. This, according to a number of researchers, is a mistake. According to one such writer, Derek R. Brookes (2000), there are threenot oneessential outcomes that restorative justice attempts to produce: (1) Reconciliation: where the victim and the offenderin the social rituals of apology and forgiveness (i) offer and receive the value and respect owed by virtue of their intrinsic human dignity and worth, and (ii) engage in a mutual condemnation of the criminal act, whilst ceremonially casting off or decertifying the offenders deviant . . . moral status . . . . (2) Reparation: where the offender takes due responsibility for the crime by making good the material harm done to the victim, that is, by agreeing to provide a fair and mutually acceptable form of restitution and/or compensation . . . .

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(3) Transformation: where the individuals and communities concerned experience some degree of liberation from the conditions that perpetuate the cycle of violence, aggression and domination exemplied in criminal behavior . . . . The performance of reparation without the other two components risks a number of counterproductive outcomes, including re-victimizing the victim, if there is a lack of remorse on the part of the offender, and adverse consequences for recidivism, if the offender experiences the requirement of restitution merely as something imposed by the system rather than an expression of his own remorse. In relation to this latter problem, one researcher (Blagg, 1985, quoted in Brookes) describes the likely perception of offenders as follows: . . . they were punished by an authority gure; they were powerless to prevent the process, they acquiesced; they then, in order to retain peer-group status and keep their egos intact, retrospectively recreated the encounter as one in which sullen obeisance was transformed into heroic resistance . . . . Such results conform to the outcomes experienced in the dominant, retributive system of criminal justice that many observers believe has failed, and that the restorative justice movement is attempting to transform. Many, perhaps most, proponents of restorative justice conceive of it as the rst line of defense against crime, and the one that is most cost-effective, but they do not view it as the only sanction needed to combat the full range of harms done by individual (or corporate) wrongdoers. An example is found in the work of John Braithwaite (2002) who proposes a pyramid design, as indicated in Fig. 1. Restorative justice techniques comprise the base

Incapacitation Deterrence Restorative Justice

Fig. 1.

of the triangle, with deterrence approaches (e.g., the use of nes and traditional restitution arrangements) on the next level, and incapacitationprison sentencesas the last resort. The particular arrangement of these components in the pyramid not only substitutes less costly for more costly approaches whenever feasible, but also proceeds from the notion that respect for and compliance with coercion is more successful when less dominating forms of social control are given a chance to work rst. Braithwaite provides evidence that this model has been successfully applied in the eld of health and safety regulation as well as both individual and corporate crime. The foregoing discussion of restorative justice applies with equal force to juvenile and adult crime, as does the comparison of restorative justice with the Becker approach that will be undertaken in the next section. However, the restorative justice approach, thus far, seems

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to have had its greatest success, and to have been most widely applied, in the juvenile setting. On a practical basis, there are a variety of reasons for this. Partly, the increasing severity of the problem of juvenile crime in recent years and the widely shared perception that traditional approaches are failing has produced a relatively greater openness to experimentation within the juvenile justice system. In addition, the varying constituencies of the criminal justice system appear to be more willing to consider that the young may be less blameworthy and more malleable than adults, that accountability for harm is truly spread over a broader group when juveniles are involved, and that the victims experience of the crime is different when the perpetrator is a juvenile (Basemore and Walgrave, 1999, pp. 6162).3 For all of these reasons, the thrust of our analysis in this paper will concern juvenile crime, although it is possible that many of our observations could be extended to the arena of adult crime as well. 3. Restorative justice and the economic model of crime The salient features of the restorative justice process described above would appear, at least at rst glance, to share scant common ground with the rational choice perspective of the Becker model. While that is true to a large degree, there are important consistencies between these two very different ways of conceiving of crime and justice. First, the economic analysis of crime, and of law more generally, proceeds from the fundamental neoclassical view that governmental solutions to social problems may depart substantially from optimal outcomes and that private sector arrangements tend to enhance efciency. In the realm of criminal justice this sentiment is seen in what John DiIulio refers to as . . . an emerging intellectual and popular consensus that community-oriented solutions to the crime problem are the only ones that can reap real dividends (p. 20). Restorative justice is just such a community-oriented solution, one that departs from the traditional view of crime as, rst and foremost, an offense against the State, and one that advocates the return of control over the disposition of criminal matters to those most affected by themthe victim, the offender, and the community. Further, in Beckers original statement of the economic model of crime, he makes the case for a system wherein a . . . criminal action would be dened fundamentally not by the nature of the action but by the inability of a person to compensate for the harm that he caused (p. 198). This notion is discussed in the context of speculation about a system wherein the norm of punishment is an optimal ne, consistent with the calculations of the model, rather than the myriad and sometimes contradictory sanctions of a system attempting to achieve simultaneously deterrence, vengeance, and compensation. Becker demonstrates that less information is required in the determination of the optimal ne than in the deterIt is tempting to argue on a theoretical as well as a practical level that the developmental difference between adults and juveniles makes the latter group a special case for whom the restorative justice approach is uniquely well-suited. After all, differences in the development of judgment and the capacity for rational thought are believed to persist throughout childhood. According to Basemore and Walgrave (1999), however, acceptance of such a basis for a separate system of justice is fraught with danger: If it is accepted that the intrinsic qualities of a category of offenders may justify the maintenance of a separate system, there are no reasons not to establish a separate court system for female offenders, or for the elderly, for example (p. 58). Indeed, there is vigorous debate in the criminal justice literature about the appropriateness of a bifurcated system of adult and juvenile courts as opposed to a unied just deserts approach where age is considered to be one among a variety of potentially mitigating factors (see, e.g., Feld, 1999). An exploration of the parameters of this debate is beyond the scope of this paper.
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mination of other types of punishments. Fines are thus superior to alternative punishments, which should be reserved only for cases where the harm exceeds the resources available from the offender to effect compensation. This notion of compensation as the foundation for the repair of harm is well-established in the civil law through the system of tort liability, and is a key focus of the economic perspective on law (see, e.g., Cooter and Ulen, 2000). One way to think about restorative justice is as a system that takes as its point of departure this same notion. The focus of the restorative justice approachrepairing the harm, restoring the individual and the community, making amends for the offense, healing,emanates from an alternative vision of the criminal justice system as a mechanism for making whole the individuals affected by criminal activity. Thus, like Becker, proponents of restorative justice advocate extending to the arena of criminal law the fundamental orientation of the civil law. Despite these similarities, it is clear that the restorative justice orientation moves beyond Beckers formulation and the economic model of crime in at least a couple of important ways. First, its view of the type of compensation needed to adequately repair the harm is quite different. While material or monetary restitution is a part of the solution, the overarching goal is the healing of the victim and the salvaging of the offender through processes of reconciliation and transformation, as outlined earlier. Second, the restorative justice perspective implicitly asserts a high degree of condence that offenders do, in most cases, possess the resources needed to repair the harm. This is because, ultimately, a substantial portion of the resources that are required for this objective are non-monetary in nature, i.e., the ability and willingness to face and to be held accountable for the harm one has caused, to feel remorse and to communicate it, and so forth. In this view, then, the critical element lacking in the current environment is a process that can bring those (existing) resources to bear upon the problem, that is, a restorative rather than a retributive criminal justice process.4 Many researchers outside of economics, including proponents of restorative justice, nd implausible a portrayal of the decision process involved in the commission of a crime as a rational process involving a comparative assessment of costs and benets. The criticism is that the many psychological inuences at work in the majority of crimes simply render the economic approach underspecied (Braithwaite, 2002, p. 124). In addition, critics such as Braithwaite point to evidence that behavioral responses to variables like the severity of punishment, whether in the realm of individual crime or corporate regulation, cannot be adequately described by monotonically increasing functions. Rather, reversals that are essentially unpredictable may occur in a particular context depending on perceptions of fairness, feasibility, and the degree to which the sanctions threaten values held dear. And, many critics of the economic model suggest that the situation acknowledged by Becker, wherein the level of compensation required to repair a harm exceeds the resources of the offender, has the potential to create more harm than it repairs. An example would be the case of a corporate white-collar criminal defendant that is rendered bankrupt by the level of nes required for genuine compensation, and innocent employees lose their jobs as a
4 The reliance of the restorative approach on non-monetary resources for compensation has the additional advantage of reducing the inuence of income inequality on the outcomes of the criminal justice system. Under such a regime, an offenders ability to make adequate payment to repair the harm inicted by the crime bears little relation to the ultimate resolution that is arrived at. We thank an anonymous reviewer for drawing out this point.

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result. Increasing the severity of punishments in such cases is of limited practical usefulness. Despite these disagreements, some restorative justice advocates suggest a limited role for the economic model of crime in recommending optimal levels of punishment, so long as such recommendations are understood in a dynamic framework that imposes traditional sanctions only after restorative efforts have failed (Braithwaite, 2002, p. 125).5

4. Restorative justice and social capital A more congenial approach to the economic modeling of restorative justice may lie in the concept of social capital that appears to be gaining some currency among economists in a variety of areas.6 First introduced by economist Robert Loury (1977, 1981) in studies of income distribution in the 1970s, this notion has been developed more fully in recent works by Robert D. Putnam (1992, 2000) and by sociologist James S. Coleman (1990). As Coleman denes it, social capital can be placed on a continuum with physical capital and human capital: Just as physical capital is created by making changes in materials so as to form tools that facilitate production, human capital is created by changing persons so as to give them skills and capabilities that make them able to act in new ways. Social capital, in turn, is created when the relations among persons change in ways that facilitate action. Physical capital is wholly tangible, being embodied in observable material form; human capital is less tangible, being embodied in the skills and knowledge acquired by an individual; social capital is even less tangible, for it is embodied in the relations among persons. Physical capital and human capital facilitate productive activity, and social capital does so as well. While social capital can take a variety of forms, it often involves a set of expectations and obligations between people. One might think of it, in accounting terms, as a system of credits and debits that are non-monetary and non-fungible in nature. The size of the holdings of social capital in this form depends upon the degree to which a social order exhibits trust that such obligations will be fullled, and the degree to which people are willing to extend and utilize such credits. One example of this type of social capital that has received considerable attention from economists in recent years is the phenomenon of micronance pioneered by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and applied throughout the world in various settings, ranging from street vendors in Cairo to furniture makers in Northern California (see Morduch, 1999).
5 It should be noted that, potentially, a broad range of crimes could be dealt with using the restorative approach, so long as the necessary elements are present. The absence of one or more of these elements gives rise to those situations where society justiably imposes traditional sanctions [only] after restorative efforts have failed. Paramount among the elements necessary to ensure the success of restorative efforts are: (1) remorse on the part of the offender, in order to assure that the victim is not re-victimized, and (2) the ability to repair the harm through restitution. Clearly, in the case of the most serious of crimes, both of these elements may be lacking, particularly the latter one. However, researchers in this eld generally do not suggest any necessary relationship between the suitability of restorative justice and the type of crime committed. 6 Part of the inspiration for the current paper was a statement made by John J. DiIulio in his recent review article on the economics of crime, suggesting that the relation between crime and social capital appeared to provide the most promising avenue for future economic research on crime.

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Colemans model of social capital consists of a diagram such as those shown in the panels of Fig. 2, illustrating the relationships among three individuals, A, B, and C.
A

B
Panel (a)

B
Panel (b)

Fig. 2.

The dots represent the human capital held by each individual, while the arrows represent their holdings of social capital. In each relationship, the arrows point from the individual who exercises some control in the relationship (e.g., the party granting a credit) toward the individual who is, in some manner, dependent on that control (e.g., the party incurring the debit). In panel (a), each pair of individuals has a balanced set of expectations and obligations to each other, as indicated by the reciprocal nature of the arrows. However, this balance need not be present, as indicated by the alternative in panel (b). Here, individual A controls arrangements that create obligations in B and in C, respectively. That relationship is reciprocal for individual C, but not for B. In addition, there is no pattern of expectation and obligation at all between individuals B and C. Using the tools of constrained optimization, Coleman goes on to quantify, under various assumptions on the utility functions of the individuals involved, the differences in power possessed by A, B, and C in the two cases.7 Applying this model in the present context, the relations illustrated in panel (b) offer a vantage point from which to view the criminal justice system in the absence of the restorative justice approach. That gure is reproduced in Fig. 3 with individual A labeled as an offender, individual B labeled as the victim of As crime, and individual C labeled as an offender in an unrelated crime. The relationship between A and B arises solely from the coercion of B by A. The relation between A and C results from their meeting and interaction while both are incarcerated. This problem of prisoners acquiring human capital that functions primarily to facilitate their future criminal career is well recognized. As economist Richard Freeman (1996) points out, Many offenders sentenced to prison eventually return to society with their labor market skills and opportunities reduced and their criminal skills and opportunities enhanced. This
7 See Colemans empirical estimates on p. 315 based on the model presented on pp. 674680. This type of calculation would be impractical in the present context, and would lack sufcient generality to provide the basis for useful inferences, because it assumes a known and rather specic distribution of preferences and resources available to each individual in the relationships under examination. The general conclusion is applicable, however, that an individuals granting of a larger number of credits to others creates more social capital at his or her disposal, thus enhancing his or her power in the social system. Applied in this context, clearly, the relative empowerment of the victim is one of the goals of the restorative justice movement.

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Offender A

B = Victim of A
Fig. 3.

Offender C

relationship among offenders is depicted here as one that is reciprocal, although this need not be the case. In order to consider the impact of restorative justice in this type of model, the further aspect of Colemans work dealing with the notion of closure in a social network needs to be introduced. In any social system, whether it be the family, the school system, the corporate culture, or another organization, the development of norms and compliance with sanctions is facilitated by mutually reinforcing behavior among individuals. In panel (a) of Fig. 2, there is closure among the individuals involved, based on the shared social capital arising from the balanced reciprocal relations among them. In panel (b) of Fig. 2, this is not the case. As another example, consider Colemans analysis (pp. 593594) of organizations that forge relationships among parents of children in the same school (such as an active PTA). The contrast between the social capital held by individuals in such a school community and that of similarly situated schools that fail to build such networks between parents arises from the presence or absence of closure, as depicted in Fig. 4, panels (a) and (b), respectively.
PARENT A

PARENT B

PARENT A

PARENT B

CHILD A

CHILD B

CHILD A

CHILD B

School with active PTA


Panel (a)

School without active PTA


Panel (b)

Fig. 4.

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Panel (b) depicts a situation where the childs holdings of social capital exceed those of the parent. The inuence of parental expectations is weakened by the lack of reinforcement among parents, in contrast to the strengthened inuence of the peer network. Applying this notion to the criminal justice system, the relations among victim and offenders comprising the social capital in Fig. 3 are reproduced in Fig. 5, panel (a), to show the contrast with a system that demonstrates closure, as illustrated in panel (b).
OFFENDER A

OFFENDER A

OFFENDER B

VICTIM OF A

OFFENDER C
Panel (a)

VICTIM OF A

VICTIM OF B
Panel (b)

Fig. 5.

Panel (b) illustrates the restorative justice approach. By permitting the victim to confront the offender and by providing a mediated setting in which a restitution agreement can be jointly created, the relations between individual offenders and their victims are expanded, as indicated by the addition of the reciprocal arrows between victims and offenders. In addition, by creating a systemic role for victims in the administration of justice, the closure so necessary to the effective promulgation of norms and internal enforcement of social sanctions is provided. This systemic role would characterize a criminal justice system that had, as its rst line of defense against crime, trained mediators facilitating restorative justice conferences, as envisioned by the pyramid scheme of Braithwaite discussed earlier. This role for victims is illustrated in the diagram by the arrows indicating direct communication and support among victims. While such direct communication is not currently practiced, the restorative justice process provides a functional equivalent to such an arrangement, creating a systemic role for victims in the criminal justice process that ensures the individual victim is not alone and is not forgotten.8 The foregoing review suggests that the alternative offered by restorative justice to the current criminal justice system may be understood as an expansion of social capital, strengthened by a high degree of closure in the social network. While this characterization is conceptually compelling, it is not clear that it provides a workable basis for measuring the economic
8 The particular construction in Fig. 5 of how restorative justice expands and enhances the stock of social capital is presented for suggestive purposes only. Many alternatives are possible. For example, beginning with the diagram in panel (a) of Fig. 5, we might move to a more general statement in panel (b) of the impact of restorative justice as

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impact of such a change in the criminal justice system.9 Indeed, measurement in this area is inherently controversial and of major concern to both the defenders of the current criminal justice system, and to the proponents of change such as advocates of restorative justice. The concluding section of this paper outlines briey some of the issues raised in this debate and reviews preliminary data gleaned from a survey of district courts in the state of Missouri. 5. Empirical work on restorative justice In the context of evaluating proposals for improving the juvenile justice system in the US, the fact that is most striking is how high are the stakes. A recent estimate by Mark Cohen (1998) placed the cost to society of losing just one youth to a life of crime and drug abuse at a value somewhere in the range of $1.72.3 million. The potential for gains from a variety of early intervention strategies intended to reduce the incidence of juvenile criminal behavior has been explored by a number of economists (see, e.g., Greenwood et al., 1998) and also has been found to be quite large. Particular treatment programs for juveniles in custody have been identied by economists (see, e.g., Lipsey, 1992) that promise at least a marginal reduction in recidivism. Restorative justice programs seem not to have entered the radar screen of economists, thus far, but other disciplines are moving ahead in the empirical evaluation of the existing programs.10 A variety of studies have demonstrated positive results
follows:
Offender A

Victim of A
Panel (b)

Community

Community in this diagram would still include the other offenders with whom offender A comes in contact, but would also be understood to include, most prominently, the offenders family members, particularly the parents, and representatives of the larger community that is harmed by the crime (through, e.g., an elevated sense of fearfulness, increased costs for security measures, and so forth). The closure in this diagram would indicate reciprocal bonds among all of these parties, not simply between members of the offender community and not simply between the offender and his or her individual victim. 9 We concur with the following observation Coleman makes in his discussion of the concept of social capital: Whether social capital will come to be as useful a quantitative concept in social science as are the concepts of nancial capital, physical capital, and human capital remains to be seen; its current value lies primarily in its usefulness for qualitative analyses of social systems . . . (p. 306). 10 Greenwoods study utilized data from California in the early 1990s and considered four types of early intervention: early childhood home visits and day care, parent training and social skills development for youths, graduation incentive programs to improve educational attainment of at-risk youth, and traditional correctional supervision of young juvenile delinquents. The impacts of these interventions were estimated using a measure of the number of serious crimes prevented per million program dollars for each of the four interventions. These gures were compared to estimates of the crime-reducing effects of Californias three strikes law. All four interventions compared favorably, with parent training and graduation incentives garnering the largest gains. Neither this study nor the one by Lipsey, however, considered restorative justice initiatives.

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with regard to client satisfaction (among both victims and offenders), restitution completion rates, recidivism, and cost. Very recently, efforts have been made by at least two groups of researchers (Latimer et al., 2001; Umbreit et al., 2002) to systematically distill meaningful evidence from the wide array of small programs that have been studied.11 Numerous issues have been raised about the ability of quantitative measures to capture the full impact of the restorative justice approach. As discussed earlier, many of the benets believed to derive from this approach are inherently non-monetary and long-term in nature. An emphasis on the measurable outcomes of such programs, such as completion rates of restitution agreements and reduced recidivism rates, may understate the true signicance of the approach. Worse yet, it may lead researchers to conclude that the previously mentioned, critical attributes of restorative justice (reconciliation, reparation, and transformation) all are present, when in fact they may not be. Many of the studies completed thus far also suffer from the potential for selection bias, as prospective randomized assignment to restorative justice versus a conventional juvenile justice approach has rarely been accomplished. One exception with regard to this latter problem is an ongoing randomized study begun in 1997 by researchers at Indiana University in collaboration with the Hudson Institute and the city of Indianapolis (see Reynolds, 2001). The results to date have been encouraging: 90% of the victims expressed satisfaction with the handling of their case compared to 68% whose cases were handled by conventional means, 80% of the offenders fullled their restitution agreements compared to 58% for juveniles assigned restitution through other means, and the rearrest rate for offenders who completed restorative justice conferences were 2545% lower than that of their counterparts. Evidence gathered in a survey of the 45 circuit court districts in Missouri by one of the authors of this paper (Katz, 2000) indicated similar levels of success in restorative justice programs underway in the state. Although few of the states circuit courts currently operate such programs, the success of those that do is striking, and the interest among districts that do not currently offer restorative justice conferencing is high. Key ndings of the study accord with those reviewed above: rates of re-arrest for juvenile offenders who complete restorative justice conferences are below the national average, rates of completion of restitution agreements are very high, and rates of satisfaction on the part of both victims and offenders are also very high. An encouraging note made by the respondents from one of the circuit court districts in the study was their nding that 9 out of 10 offenders responding anonymously to survey questions indicated they would never commit a crime again. This type of qualitative data, while more limited as a basis for statistically valid inferences, nevertheless
The wide array of different programs makes it difcult to generalize the results. The Umbreit et al. working paper reviews 63 studies of restorative justice programs at various locations around the globe, citing favorable evidence with respect to client satisfaction, fairness, restitution, recidivism, and cost. Their results also attempt to incorporate the main conclusions of the Lattimer study. The Umbreit paper concludes with the following assertion: Restorative justice conferencing, in its various forms, has been studied empirically over 25 years in numerous countries and with a wide range of populations. It has probably been examined as extensively, if not more so, as any justice or correctional reform (p. 18). Some of the shortcomings of this empirical literature are alluded to in our concluding remarks.
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tends to convey something of the transformative character that restorative justice seeks to achieve. In sum, the empirical work evaluating restorative justice programs that has been compiled to date is encouraging. However, serious problems of measurement remain. Further collaboration between economists and other social scientists is needed, in order to apply and measure in a meaningful way concepts such as social capital that capture the spirit of the restorative justice alternative now being pioneered in juvenile justice programs throughout the country.

References
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