Final Reports on Statewide Victim Youth Conferencing Initiative

Final Reports on Statewide Victim Youth Conferencing Initiative

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Office of Dispute Resolution released two reports describing the findings of the statewide Victim Youth Conferencing program. The final evaluation report, The Victim Youth Conferencing (VYC) Evaluation: January 2018 June 2021 VYC Enhancement Initiative Fiscal Report, outlines the final findings of ODR’s 3-year program grant, funded in part by The Sherwood Foundation, during which time the six ODR-approved mediation centers facilitated VYC conferences in 24 counties across all six judicial districts.  The second report, Recidivism Rates for Victim Youth Conferencing at ODR-Approved Mediation Centers: January 2018 – December 2020, examines the program’s effectiveness in reducing a youth’s subsequent contact with the courts.

Victim Youth Conferencing (VYC) is a victim oriented restorative justice process that provides youth and those they have harmed with an opportunity to talk about and understand the impacts of the youth’s actions. Together, the youth and victim determine how the youth can repair and develop a reparations plan. To ensure the youth is appropriate for this type of process, the facilitator conducts an assessment before the joint conference. Also, the victim has a choice about participating and may choose not to. When this is the case, a victim surrogate is used in place of the victim and speaks from their own experience and perspective; surrogates do not speak for the actual victim.

During the three-year grant term, the ODR-approved mediation centers received 871 individual youth case referrals that resulted in 677 actual conferences. Recidivism was accessed using the Nebraska Supreme Court’s definition of juvenile recidivism that states “recidivism shall mean that within one year of being successfully released from a probation of problem-solving court program the juvenile has (a) an adjudication pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. §43-247(1) or (2),” Nebraska Supreme Court Rule §1-1001(B).

Evaluation Highlights:

  • During any given year, County Attorneys (Tier 1) and Court Diversion (Tier 2) together were responsible for 74.6% to 83.7% of all VYC referrals in the calendar year, while 15.9% to 23.6% of referrals were made by courts for adjudicated youth, most who were assigned to probation.
  • The cases included 730 victims, of which 375 were youth, 167 adults, and 89 were cases involving mutual assault. A total of 889 victims were served during the 3.5 year period, which in most cases included a youth victim
  • Of 871 case referrals, 677 held a VYC. In 99.6% of the cases that resulted in a VYC conference, the parties came to a mutual agreed reparation plan.
  • Of the 668 with a reparation plan, 88.8% successfully fulfilled all (546 of 668) or at least more than half (47 of 668) of the plan conditions.
  • 91.1% of participants who completed a post-VYC conference survey reported being extremely satisfied (299 of 651) or satisfied (294 of 651) with their experience participating in the VYC process. 93.2% (607of 651) said they would recommend VYC for others.
  • Feedback from program stakeholders highlighted the need for more education around restorative justice and VYC and more funding to sustain utilization of the program. Stakeholders are eager to use VYC, but sometimes lack the means to do so.

Recidivism Highlights:

  • 88% of youth participants who successfully completed the program did not recidivate within 1-year.
  • Youth who successfully complete the program were 80% less likely to recidivate compared to youth who did not successfully complete the program.
  • Similarly, youth who participated in cases that resulted in a reparations plan were approximately 87% less likely to recidivate
     

Links to reports:

The Victim Youth Conferencing (VYC) Evaluation: January 2018 June 2021 VYC Enhancement Initiative Fiscal Report

Recidivism Rates for Victim Youth Conferencing at ODR-Approved Mediation Centers: January 2018 – December 2020