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Making Sense of Restorative Practices Research
Paul McCold, Director of Research, International Institute for Restorative Practices, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Posted 2007-11-07

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Paper from "Improving Citizenship & Restoring Community," the 10th International Institute for Restorative Practices World Conference, November 7–9, 2007, Budapest, Hungary.

Paul McCold
Professor, IIRP
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Professor McCold uses three theoretical frameworks to review and make sense of the results from fifteen years of empirical research on restorative practices in criminal justice and school settings. The following web links provide access to the original material referenced (in order of presentation).

Major Research Report Shows 
Effectiveness of Restorative Justice
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NTUy

The study, ‘Restorative Justice: The Evidence,’ headed by Dr. Lawrence W. Sherman and Dr. Heather Strang, concludes that restorative justice is as or more effective than traditional methods of criminal justice for reducing crime, and is also more satisfying and beneficial to victims. This article by Joshua Wachtel covers the study’s principal data and conclusions and includes comments by Dr. Strang and others.

In Pursuit of Paradigm: 
A Theory of Restorative Justice
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NDI0

This paper by Paul McCold and Ted Wachtel presents a concise summary of the restorative justice theory that the IIRP has promulgated over the last several years. The theory provides the framework for a comprehensive answer to the how, what, and who of the restorative justice paradigm. The paper was presented by Paul McCold at the XIII World Congress of Criminology, 10–15 August 2003, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Also available in Portuguese and Spanish languages.

Handbook on Restorative Justice Programmes Published by the United Nations
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NTQ3

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s Criminal Justice Reform Unit has published a Handbook on Restorative Justice Programmes — an introduction to the theory and practice of restorative justice and a guide for nations and practitioners that wish to implement restorative justice. This article by Joshua Wachtel includes interviews with some of its contributors and a link to the handbook.

Restorative Justice Theory Validation:
 Executive Summary
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NDYy

By Paul McCold and Ted Wachtel. Executive summary of paper presented at the Fourth International Conference on Restorative Justice for Juveniles, Tübingen, Germany, 1–4 October 2000. The paper provides evidence that processes involving all stakeholders — victims, offenders, and their family and friends — in responding to an offence, like conferencing, are more restorative than processes involving fewer stakeholders.

A Survey of Assessment Research on Mediation and Restorative Justice
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NDAz

Paul McCold’s article, an overview of evaluation research of restorative justice programmes worldwide from 1971 to 2001, appeared in the book Repositioning Restorative Justice, Criminal Justice and Social Context, from Willan Publishing. The article, which is summarized in this eForum article by Laura Mirsky, is a useful tool for those who wish to catch up on the state of restorative justice research.

The Jerry Lee Program Research on Restorative Justice: Promising Results
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NTMz

The Jerry Lee Program on Randomized Controlled Experiments in Restorative Justice is comparing restorative conference outcomes, for both victims and offenders, to those of conventional criminal justice practices in numerous criminal cases in Australia and the United Kingdom. This article by Abbey J. Porter discusses the results to date.

Restorative Conferences Reduce Trauma from Crime, Study Shows
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NTM2

This article by Abbey J. Porter provides information about a controlled study that showed that restorative conferencing reduced post-traumatic stress symptoms in victims of crime. The study was performed by Dr. Caroline M. Angel, a lecturer in criminology at the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.

Recidivism patterns in the Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments
http://www.aic.gov.au/criminal_justice_system/rjustice/rise/recidivism.html

By Lawrence W. Sherman, Heather Strang, and Daniel J. Woods. This report describes findings on the recidivism behaviour of offenders involved in the Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE), which compared the effects of standard court processing with the effects of a diversionary conference for four kinds of cases: drink driving at any age, juvenile property offending with personal victims, juvenile shoplifting offences detected by store security officers, and youth violent crimes.

Evaluation of a Restorative Milieu: CSF Buxmont School/Day Treatment Programs
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NDM5

This study by Paul McCold, Ph.D., reports on the effect of restorative practices on reoffending, attitudes, and programme completion among students at the CSF Buxmont schools in southeastern Pennsylvania. Dr. McCold presented this paper at the American Society of Criminology annual meeting, 13–16 November 2002, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Follow-Up Research Confirms Positive Effect of a Restorative Milieu on Young Offenders
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=Mzky

Results of a follow-up study by Paul McCold on the effects of a restorative environment on young offenders have replicated the positive conclusions of the original study. Even two years after programme discharge, the restorative environment still had a significant effect in reducing offending among those young people in the original study.

SaferSanerSchools: Transforming School Culture with Restorative Practices
http://www.iirp.edu/article_detail.php?article_id=NDI4

This article by Laura Mirsky features three schools — Palisades High School, Palisades Middle School, and Springfield Township High School, all in Pennsylvania, USA — that implemented a SaferSanerSchools pilot programme in which all staff were introduced to restorative practices philosophy and techniques. The article includes interviews with staff and students and disciplinary data collected by the three schools.

Restorative Justice in Schools
http://yjbpublications.justice.gov.uk/en-gb/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=207&eP=

This consisted of nine local Youth Offending Teams in the UK working across 26 schools (20 secondary and 6 primary). The report explores the levels of victimization, bullying, and robbery in the studied schools, the restorative justice approaches introduced, participants’ (victims’ and offenders’) satisfaction, the short and long-term effects of the programme, and whether restorative justice conferences are a useful tool in reducing school exclusions.