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The Impacts of the Make-it-Right Program on Recidivism


The Make-it-Right (MIR) restorative justice conferencing program serves youth ages 13 to 17 who would have otherwise faced relatively serious felony charges (e.g., burglary, assault, unlawful taking of a vehicle). Following extensive preparation, participating youth meet with the people they have harmed or a surrogate, accept responsibility for the impact of their actions, and come to an agreement for how the youth can repair to the greatest extent possible the harm they caused. If the youth follow through with the repair actions outlined in the agreement, charges against them are never filed. If they do not, they face traditional juvenile felony prosecution. In this study, eligible youth were randomly assigned to participate in MIR or to a control group in which they faced felony prosecution. We find that youth given the opportunity to participate in MIR had a 19-percentage-point lower likelihood of a rearrest within six months, a 44 percent reduction relative to the control group of youth who were prosecuted in the traditional juvenile justice system. The reduction in justice-system contact persists even four years after the offer of participation, providing strong evidence that restorative justice community conferencing can reduce subsequent justice-system involvement among youth charged with relatively serious offenses and can be an effective alternative to traditional prosecution.

This work has been supported, in part, by the University of California Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives grants MRP-19-600774 and M21PR3278.

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