Long-term impact of family group conferences on re-offending: the Indianapolis restorative justice experiment
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The purpose of the current study is to test the long-term effect of Family Group Conferences (FGCs) on recidivism prevalence and time to first re-offense for first-time youthful offenders.
The current study builds on an experiment with a reasonably large sample (n = 782) conducted in Marion County (Indianapolis), Indiana, USA. The current study extends this work by following the cases for an additional 10 years. To examine the empirical relationships among the variables, this study employs a two-step approach. The initial analysis, employing logistic regression, measures prevalence of re-offending based on whether the youth ever was re-arrested during the follow-up period. The second step employs Cox Proportional-Hazards Regression to examine time until first re-offense.
The findings revealed that when extended to a 12-year follow-up period, there were no significant differences between the FGC and control groups in re-offending prevalence or time to re-offense.
An earlier study suggests that treatment group youths experienced reduced risk in the short-term and there is no evidence in the present study to suggest that youths participating in FGCs were placed at greater risk for re-offending. Given these findings and the body of research suggesting improved outcomes for victims, continued experimentation with FGCs and related restorative processes seems warranted. Future studies would benefit from blocking procedures in the experimental design in order to examine whether treatment effects are moderated by gender, race, and initial type of offense. The lack of such blocking procedures represents a limitation of the current study.
KeywordsRestorative justice Family group conference Indianapolis experiment Re-offending Long-term impact Experimental design
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