This study examined the impact on the post-traumatic stress of robbery and burglary victims of face-to-face restorative justice conference (RJC) meetings with their offenders.
Two trials conducted in London randomly assigned consenting burglary or robbery victims to either a face-to-face restorative justice conference (RJC) with their offenders in addition to conventional justice treatment or conventional treatment without a RJC. Post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) were measured with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) within 1 month of treatment for 192 victims. The prevalence and severity of PTSS scores were assessed following treatment, using independent sample t tests and chi square statistics. The magnitude of the differences between the groups were measured using effect size analyses. Analyses indicated that PTSS scores were significantly lower among victims assigned to RJC in addition to criminal justice processing through the courts compared to customary criminal justice processing alone. There were 49 percent fewer victims with clinical levels of PTSS and possible PTSD (IES-R is greater than or equal to 25). Main treatment effects were significant (t=2.069; p<.05). These findings suggest that restorative justice conferences reduce clinical levels of PTSS and possibly PTSD in a short-term follow-up assessment. Future research should include longer follow-up, larger and more stratified samples, and financial data to account for the cost-benefit implications of RJ conferences compared to customary PTSS treatments. 53 references (publisher abstract modified)
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