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National Scan, Case Studies, and Evaluability Assessments of Restorative Justice Programs for Serious and Violent Harm

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,136)

The Urban Institute (Urban), in collaboration with the National District Attorney’s Association (NDAA), is pleased to submit this proposal to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in response to Priority Area 2 (Restorative Justice Strategies) of the Research and Evaluation on the Administration of Justice: Diversion and Restorative Justice, Fiscal Year 2022 solicitation. The purpose of this proposed study is to advance the field of restorative justice (RJ) in its application to the adult criminal legal system. The specific goals of this study are (1) to fill a gap in knowledge and practice around the extent to which localities are implementing RJ diversion programs for adults charged with serious and/or violent offenses in particular; (2) to document in detail the operational structure and implementation processes of established adult RJ diversion programs to provide guidance to other localities interested in initiating such programs; and (3) to identify programs where it is feasible to conduct future outcome/impact research and develop evaluation plans accordingly. Because our focus is on RJ programs in which people may be formally diverted from further criminal legal system involvement, this study will center on prosecutor-involved RJ diversion programs, meaning those that are either prosecutor-led (i.e., designed and/or managed fully or in part by prosecutors’ offices) or prosecutor-adjacent (i.e., programs to which prosecutors’ offices make referrals). To begin to fill this gap, we propose a short 18-month, context-setting study that would allow us to quickly implement additional work to examine the outcomes and impacts of RJ programs for adults charged with serious and violent offenses. In particular, we will conduct (1) a national scan of prosecutor-led and prosecutor-adjacent RJ diversion programs, (2) case studies in five jurisdictions in which established RJ programs are being used to address serious and violent crime with adults, and (3) evaluability assessments within those same jurisdictions to design future outcome/impact evaluations for those sites that hold promise for rigorous evaluation. Results from this study will expand knowledge around the use of RJ programs for adults charged with serious and violent offenses, build an understanding of the barriers and challenges localities face in implementing these programs, and provide a guide for localities looking to implement these programs. This work will also identify programs for future research, including a potential second phase of this study, to build evidence around the efficacy of these RJ programs.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR  200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 29, 2022