A Review of Restorative Justice in Florida and Other States
Report 20-02, January 2020
- Restorative justice is a victim-centered process that typically includes repairing harm from a crime, holding offenders accountable, and stakeholder participation. In the criminal justice field, the literature supports positive impacts on victims after participation in restorative justice programming. Additionally, despite mixed results, the literature generally supports reduced recidivism among participants of restorative justice programming. There are important limitations to research in this area, including self-selection bias and a lack of randomized controlled trials.
- Other states have implemented a variety of programs under the label of restorative justice, but, in general, states started their restorative justice programs with juvenile offenders who committed lower-level crimes. As confidence in the success of these programs was established, programs often expanded to include adult offenders and more serious crimes, with most states having victim-offender dialogue programs for adults in correctional settings. Colorado has the most comprehensive statutes relating to restorative justice, including the creation of a state Restorative Justice Council made up of 19 appointed representatives that provide guidance and technical assistance to restorative justice programs.
- In Florida, there are few statutory provisions for restorative justice; however, there are some programs in the criminal justice system. The state has several organizations focused on the field, including the Florida Restorative Justice Association and the Restorative Practices Interagency Workgroup. There is some programming for youth at the local level and in residential services of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). For adults, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) does not have a formal restorative justice program, but has a pilot program and a working group to develop guidelines for the agency.
- The Legislature could consider creating programs in FDC and DJJ and creating a council to guide and monitor restorative justice. Barriers for the development of restorative justice include a lack of guidelines, limitations on victim and offender contact due to no contact orders, logistical issues for face-to-face meetings when the victim and offender are far apart, funding, and staffing. The programs would also have to abide by Marsy's Law and other victim rights laws, including keeping victims' information confidential. Other states address these barriers through a variety of solutions.
restorative justice, victim-offender dialogue, marsys law, victim-centered, family group conferencing, victim-offender panels, letter banks, victim impact, VOCA