Short-term effects of restorative justice conferences on post-traumatic stress symptoms among robbery and burglary victims: a randomized controlled trial
To examine the impact of face-to-face restorative justice conference (RJC) meetings led by police officers between crime victims and their offenders on victims’ post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Two trials conducted in London randomly assigned burglary or robbery cases with consenting victims and offenders to either a face-to-face restorative justice conference (RJC) 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. We assessed the prevalence and severity of PTSS scores following treatment, using independent sample t tests and chi square statistics. We further measured the magnitude of the differences between the groups, using effect size analyses.
Analyses show that PTSS scores are significantly lower among victims assigned to RJC in addition to criminal justice processing through the courts than to customary criminal justice processing alone. There are overall 49 % fewer victims with clinical levels of PTSS, and possible PTSD (IES-R ≥ 25). Main treatment effects are significant (t = 2.069; p < .05).
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 ordinary PTSS treatments.
KeywordsRestorative justice Crime victims Post-traumatic stress PTS Experiments Randomized controlled trials Robbery Burglary
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