Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Sara Steen

Abstract

Restorative justice is gaining popularity across the United States and the globe. In contrast to the retributive justice system, restorative justice creates an environment where the offender and the victim are engaged in a dialogue about the offense and its implications and create a contract of requirements that the offender must complete to repair the harm. This study sheds light on the written contract as a vital part of the restorative justice process by describing who participated in the Boulder County Sheriff’s restorative justice program, the types of crime represented, the requirements of the written contracts and how the contracts varied across gender and age. A majority of the offenders were male between the ages of 15 and 17 years old and a majority of the crimes offenses against property. The study documents how the foundational principles of restorative justice are incorporated into the various requirements of the written contracts. All of the requirements of the contracts illustrated at least one of Howard Zehr’s principles of restorative justice. Another component of the study examines the contracts through the lens of Forget’s framework for evaluating restorative justice programs through measures of offender growth. This research may help inform thinking around selection of requirements that allow for direct observation and measurement of offender growth. By identifying the requirements that work to promote the foundational principles of restorative justice and associating them with measures of offender progress, the study potentially provides new information to help build more effective contracts.

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