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Is Restorative Justice Effective?

The Effects of Restorative Justice Programming: A Review of the Empirical

In general, empirical research into restorative justice is arguably still in its infancy. Numerous questions remain unanswered. There are several issues, however, that do appear to be resolved.


Victims who experience a restorative justice program express high levels of satisfaction with the process and the outcomes. Victims also believe that the process is fair. There are strong indications that victims are much less satisfied within the traditional court system. In addition, victims’ satisfaction level appears to be related to the fulfillment of restitution agreements.


Offenders also express high levels of satisfaction with restorative justice programming and perceive the process to be fair. In addition, research suggests that offenders processed by the traditional system are less satisfied. There is evidence, though, that the severity of the restitution agreement is closely related to an offenders’ satisfaction level. The harsher the restitution, the more likely an offender will express dissatisfaction with the program.


Most restorative justice program participants have a high level of success in negotiating restitution agreements. There is also an indication that a high proportion of offenders referred to restorative justice programs follow through on their agreements and are more likely to comply than are offenders with court-ordered restitution.

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