Reference: McCold, P., & Wachtel, B. (1998). Restorative policing experiment: The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania police family group conferencing project. Pipersville, PA: Community Service Foundation.
Strategy: Restorative justice (family group processing run by police)
Z-axis: Mostly Reactive
Violent conferenced offenders have lower recidivism rates than violent offenders who refuse to participate in conference, but this is a selection effect, not a treatment effect; no difference among property offenders
Methodological Rigor: Highly rigorous- randomized experiment
Abstract: (from NCJRS) A study evaluates the Bethlehem (PA) Police Family Group Conferencing (FGC) Project. First-time moderately serious juvenile offenders are randomly assigned either to formal adjudication or to a diversionary "restorative policing" process involving family group conferencing. Police-based family conferencing employs trained police officers to facilitate a meeting attended by juvenile offenders, their victims and their families and/or friends to discuss the harm caused by the offender's action and to develop an agreement to repair the harm. Data were obtained from agency records for 80 FGC participants, 109 youths selected for but not participating in FGCs, and 103 control cases. Additional data were obtained from surveys of police officers (N=75 pre-test and N=51 post-test), victims (N=180), offenders (N=233) and offenders' parents (N=169). The FGC participation rate was 42%, 100% of conferences produced an agreement on restorative actions, and 94% of offenders were in full compliance with the agreements. Participant satisfaction and perceptions of the fairness of the FGC exceeded 96%. Lower recidivism among FGC participants was more a function of the offender's choice to participate than the effects of the conferencing itself. Violent offenders participating in conferences had lower rearrest rates than violent offenders declining to participate, but this was not true of property offenders. Typical U.S. police officers were capable of conducting FGCs, and conferencing diverted offenders lease likely to reoffend while avoiding net-widening.