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NCJ Number: 200400 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Family Group Conferences Offer Promise for Juvenile Cases
Author(s): Timothy Lavery
Corporate Author: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
United States of America
Date Published: April 2003
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Chicago, IL 60606
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 98JEFX0017
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America

Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
300 West Adams Street
Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60606
United States of America
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: News/Media
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This report presents the methodology and findings from an evaluation of the juvenile family group conference program operated by a probation department in rural Illinois.
Abstract: Participants in family group conferences include juvenile offenders, their victims, and key supporters of the juvenile offenders and their victims. Trained facilitators guide the discussion, enabling affected individuals to describe the harm caused by the crime and what the juvenile offender can do to repair the harm. At the conclusion of the conference, participants sign an agreement that describes what the juvenile offender is expected to do to repair the harm that he/she has caused. Family group conferences are typically used to divert young offenders from the formal court system. A typical offender in a family group conference is a first-time offender who has committed a relatively minor offense. In the study reported, almost every participant in one family group conference was interviewed, including the offender's guardian, the victim, a community member, and the arresting juvenile police officer. The participants were uniformly satisfied with all aspects of the conference. The study also focused on whether youth who would formerly not have been processed by the juvenile system have been brought into the system through the conferences ("net widening"). Program staff pointed out that few juvenile cases in the county were dismissed or resolved informally prior to the inception of the conference program, suggesting that there has not been "net widening." Three conferences that involved the reintegrative shaming of the offender were also observed. Case study program staff reported that from May 1999 to May 2001, only 2 of 26 offenders who had participated in a conference had their cases referred back to court. In both cases, the offenders reoffended, but still subsequently completed their conference agreement. Some of the challenges faced by the conference program have been obtaining the cooperation of multiple juvenile justice system agencies and balancing the goal of meeting victim needs with having the desired impact on offenders. These results are consistent with a recent review of prior research that examined family group conferences. 1 table
Main Term(s): Juvenile diversion programs
Index Term(s): Family conferencing; Illinois; OJJDP grant-related documents; Restorative Justice; Victim-offender reconciliation
Note: "On Good Authority," N 7, V6, April 2003
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