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The Viability of Restorative Justice Practices

ll participants were provided with brief overviews of 10 restorative justice practices:

Community reparation boards.

Community/neighborhood impact statements.

Family group conferencing.

Victim-offender mediation.

Restitution to crime victims.

Restorative community service.

Victim awareness education programs.

Victim impact panels.

Victim impact statements.

Victim notification of the youthful offender's status.

In order of ranking, the following are the most highly rated restorative justice practices among victims in all four focus groups:

Victim notification.

Victim impact statements.

Victim restitution.

From victim participants in all four states, the following recurring themes relating to restorative justice practices emerged:

The focus of restorative justice on offender accountability was lauded and appreciated.

Many victims expressed interest in participating in restorative justice processes to help youthful offenders and hopefully prevent them from victimizing others in the future.

Generally, victims appreciated the opportunities afforded by restorative justice to obtain more information and to confront their offenders in a manner that could be beneficial to both. However, group discussion emphasized that the victim's choice to voluntarily participate in these options was crucial to successful restorative justice processes.

On the whole, judges and victims' groups agreed about the paramount importance of notification and input. Relative to victims' groups, judges gave higher priority to restitution. Consistent with the high value placed on restitution as a means of holding offenders accountable to victims and the community, judges also responded favorably to paid public service programs that ensured earning opportunities for offenders who owed restitution. Judges were also strongly supportive of restorative community service—especially when this involved input from victims and/or allowed juveniles to work on meaningful civic improvement projects with neighborhood adults. Victim-offender mediation and newer practices such as community reparation boards, family group conferencing, and neighborhood impact panels received more equivocal support, partly because judges were less familiar with them.

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Victims, Judges, and Juvenile Court Reform
Through Restorative Justice
October 2000
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