Twelve experiments in restorative justice: the Jerry Lee program of randomized trials of restorative justice conferences

Sherman, Lawrence W., Strang, Heather, Barnes, Geoffrey, Woods, Daniel J., Bennett, Sarah, Inkpen, Nova, Newbury-Birch, Dorothy, Rossner, Meredith, Angel, Caroline, Mearns, Malcolm and Slothower, Molly (2016) Twelve experiments in restorative justice: the Jerry Lee program of randomized trials of restorative justice conferences. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11 4: 501-540. doi:10.1007/s11292-015-9247-6

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Author Sherman, Lawrence W.
Strang, Heather
Barnes, Geoffrey
Woods, Daniel J.
Bennett, Sarah
Inkpen, Nova
Newbury-Birch, Dorothy
Rossner, Meredith
Angel, Caroline
Mearns, Malcolm
Slothower, Molly
Title Twelve experiments in restorative justice: the Jerry Lee program of randomized trials of restorative justice conferences
Journal name Journal of Experimental Criminology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1572-8315
Publication date 2016-01-15
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s11292-015-9247-6
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 11
Issue 4
Start page 501
End page 540
Total pages 40
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Subject 3308 Law
Formatted abstract
Objectives: We conducted and measured outcomes from the Jerry Lee Program of 12 randomized trials over two decades in Australia and the United Kingdom (UK), testing an identical method of restorative justice taught by the same trainers to hundreds of police officers and others who delivered it to 2231 offenders and 1179 victims in 1995–2004. The article provides a review of the scientific progress and policy effects of the program, as described in 75 publications and papers arising from it, including previously unpublished results of our ongoing analyses.

Methods: After random assignment in four Australian tests diverting criminal or juvenile cases from prosecution to restorative justice conferences (RJCs), and eight UK tests of supplementing criminal or juvenile proceedings with RJCs, we followed intention-to-treat group differences between offenders for up to 18 years, and for victims up to 10 years.

Results: We distil and modify prior research reports into 18 updated evidence-based conclusions about the effects of RJCs on both victims and offenders. Initial reductions in repeat offending among offenders assigned to RJCs (compared to controls) were found in 10 of our 12 tests. Nine of the ten successes were for crimes with personal victims who participated in the RJCs, with clear benefits in both short- and long-term measures, including less prevalence of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Moderator effects across and within experiments showed that RJCs work best for the most frequent and serious offenders for repeat offending outcomes, with other clear moderator effects for poly-drug use and offense seriousness.

Conclusions: RJ conferences organized and led (most often) by specially-trained police produced substantial short-term, and some long-term, benefits for both crime victims and their offenders, across a range of offense types and stages of the criminal justice processes on two continents, but with important moderator effects. These conclusions are made possible by testing a new kind of justice on a programmatic basis that would allow prospective meta-analysis, rather than doing one experiment at a time. This finding provides evidence that funding agencies could get far more evidence for the same cost from programs of identical, but multiple, RCTs of the identical innovative methods, rather than funding one RCT at a time.
Keyword Aboriginal Australians
Crime harm index
Moderator effects
Personal victim offenses
Procedural justice
Prospective meta-analysis
Randomized controlled trials
Restorative justice
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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