We have begun analysis of recidivism data of a six year old pilot program: Pono Kaulike: A Hawaii Court Provides Restorative Practices for Healing, Walker & Hayashi, Federal Probation Journal, Vol. 71, No. 3, 18-24, 2007.

Three different types of restorative justice processes, which were provided with a solution-focused approach, which Insoo Kim Berg, a co-founder of solution-focused brief therapy helped us develop.  The restorative processes were available to people convicted of crimes and to those who they harmed.  The crimes were mainly harassment and assault.  The services were provided upon conviction in a misdemeanor level court in Honolulu.

Our preliminary evaluation is consistent with worldwide research showing that restorative processes are more effective at reducing recidivism than mainstream criminal justice interventions for most types of crimes (See, Sherman & Strang, restorative justice: the evidence, 2007 http://www.realjustice.org/library/rjevidence.html)

Our data, collected from an experiment group of 38 individuals and a control group of 29 individuals, found that the people who participated in the restorative processes have a lower rate of recidivism.

We have not analyzed the data thoroughly yet or for details including the frequency of the restorative process used, but the Restorative Sessions used for individuals alone, without offenders and victims meeting together, was used most often by the experiment group.   This is interesting as most restorative processes normally involved a shared process between victims and offenders.  The SF approach was especially helpful we think in these individual sessions.  There have been some applications of restorative justice combined with SF, for example Sefton Council in the UK for schools, but Hawai‘i is unique in having combined both restorative justice and solution-focused approaches in a variety of areas including courts, prisons and schools.

We plan to write a paper about the evaluation sometime next year.