Can Restorative Justice Conferencing Reduce Recidivism? Evidence from the Make-it-Right Program
61 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2021 Last revised: 24 Feb 2023
Date Written: August 2021
This paper studies the effect of a restorative justice intervention targeted at youth ages 13 to 17 facing felony charges of medium severity (e.g., burglary, assault). Eligible youths were randomly assigned to participate in the Make-it-Right (MIR) restorative justice program or a control group where they faced standard criminal prosecution. We estimate the effects of MIR on the likelihood that a youth will be rearrested in the four years following randomization. Assignment to MIR reduces the probability of a rearrest within six months by 19 percentage points, a 44 percent reduction relative to the control group. Moreover, the reduction in recidivism persists even four years after randomization. Thus, our estimates show that restorative justice conferencing can reduce recidivism among youth charged with relatively serious offenses and can be an effective alternative to traditional criminal justice practices.
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