RESTITUTION AND RECIDIVISM RATES OF JUVENILE OFFENDERS: RESULTS FROM FOUR EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES*
One of the major changes in juvenile justice during the past decade has been the increased reliance on restitution as a sanction for juvenile offenders. Although a great deal has been learned during the past 10 years about the operation of restitution programs, much remains unknown regarding its impact on recidivism rates. This report contains the results from four random-assignment experiments conducted simultaneously in four communities: Boise, Idaho, Washington, D. C., Clayton County, Georgia, and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. In all four studies, youths were randomly assigned into restitution and into traditional dispositions. On the whole, the results show that restitution may have a small but important effect on recidivism. However, not all programs will be able to achieve this effect, either because of program management and strategy, community circumstances, or other factors. Youths in the restitution groups never had higher recidivism rates than those in probation or detention conditions. In two of the four studies, the juveniles in restitution clearly had fewer subsequent recontacts with the court during the two-to-three-year follow-up.