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Can At-Risk Youth be Diverted from Crime? A Meta-Analysis of Restorative Diversion Programs

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 43 Issue: 10 Dated: 2016 Pages: 1310-1329
Jennifer S. Wong; Jessica Bouchard; Jason Gravel; Martin Bouchard; Carlo Morselli
Date Published
20 pages

The authors discuss their analysis of relevant studies to determine the overall effectiveness of restorative justice programs in reducing juvenile recidivism.


Existing reviews of the impact of restorative justice programs on juvenile recidivism have reached mixed conclusions. The present meta-analysis identified relevant studies through a systematic search of 20 databases over a 25-year period as well as the ancestry method. Application of inclusion criteria resulted in a set of 21 studies contributing 21 independent effect sizes. Programs were found to be overall effective at reducing recidivism, with a pooled odds ratio of 1.28. Subgroup analyses indicate strong evidence that study and treatment characteristics play a role in evaluation results, such as strength of research design and racial/ethnic mix of program participants. The overall quality of the literature is relatively weak, with the large majority of studies derived from non-peer-reviewed sources and a lack of detail presented on treatment characteristics. Limitations with respect to exclusion criteria, sample sizes, and between-study heterogeneity are discussed. Publisher Abstract Provided