The Judicial Council of California undertook this study to determine if current programs in the state were meeting the benchmarks set forth by the state legislature for victim offender reconciliation programs. These benchmarks stated that the amount of restitution collected be at least 40% greater and recidivism rates be at least 10% lower than in comparison (non-mediation) counties. The study found that the benchmarks were exceeded. In addition, it looked at participation and satisfaction rates and found the former to be satisfactory and the latter to be relatively high.
Description of Study: Evaluation of six countywide juvenile victim-offender mediation programs in California to determine if they had achieved the goals set by the state legislature.
Method: A group of juveniles in each program was compared to a comparable group of juveniles that did not go through the program. Each program conducted its own evaluation independently, with slightly different methods (some matched cases, others did not; some compared cases that went to mediation to those that did not because the victim declined mediation while others compared mediated cases to non-mediated cases regardless of the reason). All, however, used analysis of court records and opinion surveys of victims and offenders (right after mediation and six months later).
Comparison Groups: Mediated cases and non-mediated cases (some not mediated because victim declined). One county matched cases by specific variables.
Sample Size: Sample size varied between 25 and 153, depending on the county.
Variables Examined: Amount of restitution, recidivism rates, satisfaction, completion of program
Program Variables: Voluntary, free programs mediated off-site by volunteers. Referral by various sources. Programs ranged from 1 to more than 10 years in existence at the time of study.
Findings: Restitution collected from mediation participants exceeded that collected from the comparison group by more than 40% in 5 of 6 counties. The recidivism rate of mediation participants was at least 10% lower than that of comparison group in 5 of 6 counties. More than 90% of participants in all programs were very satisfied. Completion of the program ranged from 71% to 93%.