Protocols for Evaluating Restorative Justice Programmes

Published 11/06/2008
Type Article
Author(s) Paul McCold
Corresponding Authors Paul McCold, Director of Research at the International Institute for Restorative Practices, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

This article provides a review and critique of the current research findings about restorative justice. It is suggested that some of the positive findings are not due to programme efficacy, but rather to well-known threats to validity. The effect of case attrition on selection bias is considered in light of the voluntary nature of many restorative justice programs. Standardization of program measures is urged with specific research protocols presented and described. Protocols for measuring participant perceptions are compared. Before scientifically valid statements can be made about best practices, much more rigorous research needs to be conducted. If the results of multiple program evaluations are going to contribute to accumulated understanding of the practice, measures across programs must be standardized. A research agenda is described that would eventually allow for empirically fitting the forum to the fuss and establishing best practice standards across models. Six programme level and six case level measures are proposed as the minimum required for basic program comparisons to be meaningful.