The Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Practices: A Meta-Analysis

6. Research Recommendations

Surprisingly, given the current level of restorative justice activity in Canada, there were only three Canadian studies and no appropriate empirical evaluations of circle sentencing models or healing circles. This is due, in some part, to our selection criteria, which required the use of a control/comparison group but also because the field of restorative justice research in Canada is not as well developed as it is in other countries. In addition, as with a large proportion of criminal justice research, there was a dearth of information on the effectiveness of restorative justice for female offenders. As such, we are recommending that future Canadian research focus on the following issues:

  • more evaluations of restorative justice programs using randomly assigned treatment and control conditions with an examination of restorative justice participants’ motivation in order to address the inherent self-selection bias;
  • more specific reporting practices when presenting outcomes (i.e. by age groups, gender, criminal history, offence type);
  • more detailed information in research reports/articles on the processes involved in the programs and program facilitators;
  • the effectiveness of a combination of restorative justice and “appropriate treatment” approaches;
  • the effectiveness of restorative justice for female offenders;
  • controlled evaluations of circle sentencing models and healing circles;
  • the relationship between restitution and satisfaction; and
  • follow-up research into the longer term effects on victims.
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