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Victim/Offender Mediation in St. Louis: An Assessment

NCJ Number
Justice Research and Policy Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: 2006 Pages: 89-113
Lynn S. Urban; Sara E. Burge
Date Published
25 pages
This evaluation of St. Louis' Victim/Offender Mediation Program (VOM) determined whether juvenile participants had fewer subsequent referrals to the court.
If the goal of VOM was to reduce the number of subsequent court referrals, it was apparently successful. Juveniles who participated in a mediation session with the victim of their offenses had significantly fewer subsequent referrals compared with juveniles who did not participate in the VOM. Although this finding confirms prior research (Nugent and Paddock, 1995; Wiinamaki, 1997), there are still many unanswered questions regarding why these reductions in referrals occurred, as well as whether mediation provides the best alternative for juvenile offenders. Victim participation in VOM was the key to a completed mediation. Although very few juveniles declined to participate in VOM after being informed about the program, a significant number of victims declined to participate or never responded to inquiries by court staff. The mission of St. Louis' VOM is to "bring juvenile offenders together with their victims in a face-to-face meeting for the purpose of sharing feelings, repairing harm, discussing the facts of the offense, and to develop restitution and restoration agreements" that benefit all parties. VOM's assumption is that by meeting directly with the victim of his/her crime, the juvenile offender becomes more aware of the harms caused by the offense and the importance of being accountable in repairing the harm and changing his/her offending behavior. Subsequent court referrals were determined from juvenile court records for those who completed the VOM (n=118), eligible juveniles who did not participate in VOM (n=434), and eligible juveniles who began but did not complete VOM (n=491). The precise length of time for these juveniles to be "available" to reoffend was unknown because of data limitations. 11 tables and 26 references