Restorative Justice Evaluation Tool

The Restorative Justice Evaluation Tool™ is part of a pilot program funded by the Bush Foundation and sponsored by the Center for Neighborhoods in conjunction with the Victim Offender Mediation Association and the Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance. This tool represents a new way to capture, compile, and analyze restorative justice (RJ) case data. It is designed and authored by the Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance, based on the original work of Steven Mayer, Ph.D. of the Effective Communities Project.

(Information on how to access this tool appears at the bottom of this page.)

Who may use this tool?

Any nonprofit or governmental agency which administers or provides restorative justice mediation is eligible to use this tool.

What is the purpose of this tool?

The Restorative Justice Evaluation Tool is designed to enable mediators (and the organizations they represent) to determine the nature and scope of their cases and to assess their success against defined and measurable outcomes.

What does the tool consist of and how does it work?

The RJ Eval Tool consists of multiple surveys, (presented sequentially online or in individual PDF files which can be printed on hard copy), each of which tracks and organizes data for one party to the RJ mediation process. The parties supported by this tool include the victim, offender, their supporters or advocates, representatives of the community and government, and the RJ program administrators themselves. Each survey is broken down further into sections in which the participants are asked their assessment of the fairness and outcome of this process as well as the attitudes it inspires.

The individual surveys are printed on hard copy and distributed to each participant in an RJ mediation. The participants fill out their portion of the surveys after which an RJ administrator collects them. The aggregate case data is then entered online where it can be compiled and analyzed.

Can this tool be used for all kinds of RJ cases?

At present this tool does not support cases with multiple victims and offenders, nor does it allow for institutional victims such as churches, schools, cemeteries, etc, which may be subject to theft, vandalism, arson, or other offense. It likewise does not allow for institutional offenders, such as churches, hate groups, or private militias. This tool also does not support offenses which qualify as terroristic threats or outright acts of terrorism, (though it does allow for an RJ process for hate crimes). These and other features may be implemented in phase two of this program.

Does this tool collect data not only about the case but about participants themselves?

Yes. This RJ evaluation tool seeks to be non-discriminatory and respectful of the culture and ethnicity of its participants. Accordingly, some of the surveys include demographic questions which will help us measure and diagnose the extent to which everyone involved is treated fairly and without regard to race, gender, age, or other possible source of unintended bias. It will help us learn also whether any such characteristics tend to inform the perception (or buy-in) of the participants in the RJ process. (For purposes of this tool, race definitions are but social terms in no way based on biology, anthropology, or genetics.)

Is this tool available in multiple languages?

At present, this tool is available only in English. But in order that the surveys can be understood by people from multiple cultures, including those for whom English is a second language, the questions for the victim and offender have been revised to meet the sixth-grade reading level as defined by the Flesch-Kincaid standard. As a result, it's important to use this exact phrasing during the intake and interview process so we can safeguard the integrity of this RJ tool and have faith in its findings and analysis.

Does the RJ tool safeguard the confidentiality of the case data?

While this tool does not capture the names of the participants in each case, if you administer this RJ process at the behest of a state department, then the data practices laws of that jurisdiction will apply. For example, any data captured in Minnesota may be subject to the "Minnesota Data Practices Act."

In addition, data from multiple RJ programs throughout North America and elsewhere may be compiled and published in the aggregate (for analysis), but individual case data will be made available only to the RJ program that has oversight of it. Additionally, no contact data of your organization will be published or distributed without your prior consent.

How may I use this tool? May I distribute it to other organizations?

This tool (including the full suite of surveys) is designed for your use only (as an organization which administers or runs a restorative justice program). For your cases you may use the entire tool or any subset thereof (as applies to your needs); but you may not otherwise modify it, publish it, or distribute it to parties or organizations other than the participants in the RJ mediation cases over which you preside without the consent of the Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance which is the copyright holder. If you know of other RJ programs which may wish to make use of this tool, we encourage you to refer us to them.

May I offer suggestions for improvements of this tool?

Of course. To offer feedback on the ways this tool can be improved, as well as to ask questions regarding its format or content or to report any technical problem with the online implementation, e-mail the Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance at rjsurvey@effective.org. We welcome your comments.

How can I obtain a copy of the tool for review or actual use?

We provide an online demo of this tool and also a suite of PDF files which allows each individual survey to be printed and distributed to the participants in each mediation. You can access both on the link below:

Accessing the RJ Eval Tool

For more information, or to arrange to use this tool in production for real mediation cases, contact Russ Reetz at 612-874-0535 or at rjsurvey@effective.org. Russ will set up an online tool dedicated for your organization.

This tool is copyright 2003-2006 by the Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance. All rights reserved.