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Public Organization Review: A Global Journal 5: 375389 (2005) 2006 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. Manufactured in The Netherlands.

Restorative Justice Programs, Gender, and Recidivism

LORI ELIS lelis@fau.edu Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA.

Key words: restorative justice, gender bias, recidivism

Restorative justice programs, which attempt to reintegrate offenders into society by building and strengthening interpersonal relationships, may provide the juvenile justice system with an effective option for female offenders. If women and men have different values, and women value connections with others while men value independence and autonomy [Gilligan, C. (1982). In a Different Voice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press], then programs that explicitly focus on strengthening social bonds may be compatible with the value orientation of women. However, research on the operation of the juvenile justice system has noted a history of gender bias, as traditional notions of gender roles were reinforced by juvenile justice system professionals. While restorative justice programs may be effective in reducing recidivism among female offenders, at the same time, the informal nature of these programs may lead to the reinforcement of traditional gender roles.

Introduction The restorative justice model was proposed as an alternative to the rehabilitative and retributive philosophies underlying traditional juvenile justice system interventions (Bazemore and Umbreit, 1995). Rather than an individual focus on the treatment or punishment of offenders, restorative programs are more holistic and oriented towards repairing the harm caused by criminal acts, not only to the victims of the crime, but also to the larger community (Bazemore, 1999). Offenders are required to take responsibility for their behavior, acknowledge the damage their acts inflict on others, and work to restore and strengthen the informal relationships that are damaged through criminal activity. The emphasis of restorative justice on repairing and strengthening interpersonal ties is shared by feminist jurisprudence, which calls for a criminal justice system model based on caring and respect for others, empathy, and equality (Harris, 2004; Pranis, 2002). Although the restorative and feminist justice models may share similar values, the restorative justice literature has rarely addressed the relevance of gender for



the stakeholders to a criminal act: the offender, victim, or community members. The greatest attention has focused on victimization, and specifically addresses whether restorative programs are appropriate venues for the disposition of family violence and sexual assault cases (e.g., Daly, 2002; Pranis, 2002; Presser and Gaarder, 2000). The relationship between gender and offending has received less interest, but studies have found a lower likelihood of recidivism among girls who enter these programs than boys (e.g., Hayes and Daly, 2003; Hayes and Daly, 2004; Rodriguez, 2005) leading some researchers to explicitly call for an examination of individual characteristics, like gender, that are related to participant outcomes (Hayes and Daly, 2004). Even if restorative programs are more effective in reducing recidivism among female than male offenders, these programs may be problematic if they reinforce gender imbalances in power. This issue has been addressed previously in discussions of the use of restorative justice programs for domestic violence and sexual assault cases (Daly et al., 2003; Presser and Gaarder, 2000), but not addressed with regard to female offending. Given the history of gender bias in the traditional juvenile justice system (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004) similar concerns should be raised about the potential for gender bias in restorative programs, particularly given their informal basis. This article highlights some of these potentially relevant issues. To begin, a brief overview of gender bias and the juvenile justice system is provided, followed by a discussion of the restorative justice philosophy and findings from evaluations that assess gender differences in program outcomes. Gender differences in offending patterns, backgrounds, the characteristics of interpersonal relationships, and links to delinquency are also discussed. The article concludes with a discussion of issues that restorative justice programs may need to consider in their response to male and female offenders.

Gender bias and the juvenile justice system Critics of the juvenile justice system have argued that gender bias, leading to the inferior treatment of female offenders, has been pervasive (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004). Prior to the 1970s, gender bias was attributed to a double standard regarding appropriate behavior for girls and boys (Bishop and Frazier, 1992). This double standard reflected the traditional beliefs underlying the Progressive Movement, an early influence on the development of the juvenile justice system. These beliefs, which specified that girls should be obedient, chaste, and dependent on men led to the differential treatment of boys and girls who engaged in status offenses. During the early years of the juvenile justice system, the majority of girls processed through the juvenile justice system were charged with status offensesVspecifically waywardness and immorality, and were punished more harshly than boys accused of the same conduct (ChesneyLind and Shelden, 2004; Schlossman and Wallach, 1978). Furthermore, juvenile



justice system programming was based on stereotypical perceptions of gender specific needs, with authorities emphasizing the skills girls would need to be good wives and mothers, and providing boys with the skills they would need to enable them to get a job and financially support their families (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004). Hence, officials within the juvenile justice system reinforced patriarchal beliefs present in society, which held that women were inferior to and should be dependent upon men, and that juvenile justice system intervention was important to protect young girls and teach them their proper roles in society. The differential treatment of male and female status offenders may have declined since the 1970s, after the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (Bishop and Frazier, 1992). This legislation, which led to the deinstitutionalization of status offenders, may have reduced disparity by lessening the discretion of juvenile justice system officials. The ability to protect female status offenders by processing them through the juvenile justice system and institutionalizing them was no longer available. While status offenses continue to comprise a larger percentage of girls than boys arrests, the legislation mandated that states place status offenders in community based treatment programs rather than secure institutions. Studies conducted since the 1970s have produced mixed results about the influence of gender on juvenile justice system outcomes. While some research finds no evidence of gender bias (Herz, 1998; Teilman and Landry, 1981), other research finds that the impact of gender varies on the stage of the juvenile justice process examined, whether the juvenile is charged with a status or delinquent offense, and the prior history of the juvenile offender (Bishop and Frazier, 1992; Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004; Horowitz and Pottieger, 1991; Kempf-Leonard and Sample, 2000; MacDonald and Chesney-Lind, 2001). Bishop and Frazier (1992) found that the impact of gender differed by the type of offense as well as the prior history of the offenders. When charged with delinquent offenses, the authors found that girls received more lenient treatment. In status offense cases, however, the influence of gender was dependent on prior history. First-time status offenders were treated similarly, but girls who were charged with criminal contempt were treated more punitively than boys with similar charges. Criminal contempt charges were brought after juveniles violated a valid court order in status offense cases. Therefore, the double standard in status offense cases continued to exist, but more punitive treatment did not occur until after criminal contempt charges were brought. Horowitz and Pottieger (1991) also found evidence of differential treatment across gender and race, though the impact of these factors varied by the stage of juvenile court processing. The greatest impact of gender was found at arrest, with gender based stereotypes of police resulting in more felony arrests among boys. While there was little evidence of gender bias at the adjudication stage in this study, bias was once again evident at the dispositional stage. While white females charged with drug offenses initially received less serious punishment than other offenders, white females with a history of three or more prior adjudications were



treated more punitively than other groups of offenders. The authors concluded that while white females may initially receive a break from juvenile court judges, continued offending among that group results in harsher treatment. MacDonald and Chesney-Lind (2001) also found evidence of gender bias at different stages of the juvenile court process in Hawaii. At the petition stage, charge seriousness influenced boys and girls similarly, with increasing charge seriousness tied to an increased likelihood of a formal petition being filed. At the adjudication stage, however, girls with serious charges were significantly less likely than similarly situated boys to have their cases adjudicated delinquent. At the disposition stage, girls were treated more punitively than boys, as girls with serious charges were more likely than boys with serious charges to be confined or placed on probation. Additionally, race also affected decision-making, with white boys and girls treated more leniently than Hawaiian boys and girls at each stage of the process. Kempf-Leonard and Sample (2000) found mixed evidence for the impact of gender on juvenile court outcomes. In their analysis of juvenile court data, they found few differences in factors utilized to make detention, informal adjustment and placement decisions across gender. However, the results obtained from surveys distributed to juvenile court judges, intake officers, and treatment providers, noted the inadequacy of treatment provisions for female offenders. Furthermore, girls participating in focus groups mentioned the inadequacy of treatment programs, as well as the belief that girls are boys are treated differently when they engage in troublesome behavior. For instance, one participant noted that girls were told to act ladylike while another mentioned that girls get treated more punitively than boys when they do something wrong (Kempf-Leonard and Sample, 2000; p. 113). Although gender bias may continue to influence juvenile justice system outcomes, whether gender bias influences treatment in restorative justice programs is not known. Since restorative programs operate as diversions to the juvenile justice system, and the resolutions in restorative programs are limited to community based sanctions (Hayes and Daly, 2003; Rodriguez, 2005), the impact of gender bias on restorative outcomes is likely minimal. However, the reliance of these programs on incorporating community values and norms in determining the resolution of cases, may allow community members to reinforce traditional beliefs about the appropriate behavior of men and women.

Restorative justice models The foundation for the restorative justice model lies with the idea that crime causes harm and offenders should be held accountable for, and work to repair, the damage their actions have caused (Bazemore, 1999). While victims may bear the direct consequences of a criminal act, harmful acts also disrupt the web of connection and care between individuals in the larger community. The



relationship between criminal behavior and informal social control is reciprocal, as disruptions in informal social control produce crime, and involvement in crime leads to further disruptions in informal social control. Thus, reintegrating offenders into the community by strengthening informal social control should prevent future criminal behavior (Bazemore et al., 2000). The emphasis on building and strengthening the social capital of offenders is illustrated by restorative justice interventions. Programs such as victim-offender mediation, restorative or family group conferences, sentencing circles, restitution, and community service provide a means through which informal social control can be strengthened by increasing the level of understanding and support between offenders, victims and the community. For instance, victimoffender mediation programs allow for a dialogue between victims and offenders, in which victims have the opportunity to talk to the offender, and express their feelings about the harm caused by the offenders actions (Umbreit, 1998). Offenders are provided with a greater understanding of the damage they have caused, and are given an opportunity to make things right. This is commonly accomplished symbolically, through an apology, or financially, through restitution. Restorative or family group conferences include a wider array of individuals than mediation programs, including a conference facilitator, the victim and offender, and supporters of each (McGarrell, 2001). During the conference, participants are given the opportunity to speak, to discuss the offense and the harm caused to the victim, her supporters, and supporters of the offender. Conference participants are also encouraged to discuss positive qualities of the offender. The conference ends after participants reach an agreement on the resolution of the harm. Once again, the resolution typically involves an apology and financial restitution, but may also include community service or other sanctions. As these examples illustrate, concepts such as empathy, listening to one another, mutual responsibility and concern for others, and forgiveness are emphasized in restorative programs, and are consistent with models of feminist jurisprudence that emphasize the importance of interrelationships among individuals in the community (Harris, 2004; Pranis, 2002).

Evaluations of restorative justice programs Evaluations of restorative justice programs tend to focus on whether these programs are more effective than other interventions in influencing victim and offender satisfaction with case processing or reductions in offender recidivism (Braithwaite, 1999; Sherman et al., 2000; Umbreit, 1998). There are a few studies that examine whether offender characteristics, including gender, influence restorative justice outcomes (Hayes and Daly, 2003; Hayes and Daly, 2004; Rodriguez, 2005).



Hayes and Daly (2003) evaluated a restorative conferencing program in Adelaide, Australia that operates as a diversionary program for juvenile offenders. The conference begins with a police officers description of the event, followed by a description of the event by the victim and offender, and a discussion of the impact of the event on the stakeholders. In the final step, a resolution is agreed upon. Data for this evaluation, which examined the impact of offender characteristics on recidivism, were drawn from observations of eightnine (89) conferences, with one hundred and seven (107) offenders. Twenty-four percent (24%) of the offenders processed through the conference were female. Although the authors expected to find that female offenders were less likely to recidivate, there was no direct effect of gender on participant recidivism. The interaction of gender and race, however, did exert a significant influence on recidivism with non-Aboriginal males significantly more likely than other groups to have a formal action taken against them in the follow-up period. Hayes and Daly (2004) evaluated another restorative conferencing program in Queensland. This program also operates as a diversionary program, and juveniles were required to admit responsibility for the offense prior to entering the program. Additionally, this program accepted juveniles who engaged in a wide range of offenses, including sexual offenses. Similar to the program in Adelaide, the majority of juveniles processed through the conference over a twoyear period were male (84%). While there was no direct effect of gender on recidivism in the conferences operated in Adelaide, the expected direct effect was found in Queensland. Girls processed through the program were significantly less likely than boys to be recidivate during the follow-up period. The final evaluation examining the impact of gender on recidivism is from a diversionary family group conferencing model operating in Maricopa County, Arizona (Rodriguez, 2005). This program, although called a family group conference, differs from the previous conferences in that a group of volunteers from the surrounding neighborhood are responsible for deliberation and determining the resolution of the case. Eligible offenders include first or second time offenders, and must not be charged with a sex offense or violent felony. Like the family conferences in Queensland and Adelaide, girls accounted for fewer than half of the program participants, although a greater percentage (38%) of participants in the Maricopa County program were female. Once again, gender was directly related to recidivism. Girls processed through this program were significantly less likely than boys to have a formal petition filed against them during a two-year follow-up period. Overall, these evaluations indicate that: 1) girls constitute a smaller percentage of offenders processed through restorative justice programs than boys and 2) girls processed through these programs may be less likely than boys to recidivate. The findings from the few restorative justice programs highlighted, which suggest that recidivism rates are lower among girls than boys, are consistent with the literature on treatment overall. In their meta-analysis examining the impact of treatment programs on recidivism among adult offenders, Gendreau



and his associates (1996) found that recidivism rates among women were significantly lower than recidivism rates among men. Therefore, the findings regarding the influence are gender are consistent with the overall literature, yet the reasons why girls are less likely to recidivate in restorative programs have not been explored. The following sections highlight the relationship between gender, offending patterns, and environmental factors and addresses potential reasons why girls are less likely than boys to: 1) become involved in crime and 2) recidivate after participation in restorative justice programs.

Gender and offending patterns The finding that girls constitute fewer than half of the participants in the restorative programs discussed above is consistent with arrest data. In 2002, girls accounted for less than one-third (29%) of juvenile arrests (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2004). Furthermore, offending patterns also differ by gender, with greater similarity for less serious property crimes like larceny-theft (girls accounted for 39% of these arrests) than violent crimes like aggravated assault (24% of all arrests). Girls are overrepresented in arrests for some status offenses, as girls accounted for 60% of juvenile arrests for running away. Gender differences in arrest patterns may lead to different levels of participation across restorative justice programs, as eligibility for these programs vary based on offense type and prior history (Bazemore and Umbreit, 2001). For instance, the programs highlighted in the previous section show different levels of involvement, with girls constituting thirty-eight (38%) percent of the offenders in the Maricopa county community sentencing program, and sixteen (16%) percent of the offenders in the Queensland program. Although variations in rates may reflect overall differences in criminal participation across areas, the differences may also be affected by the types of offenses that are eligible for the program. While the Maricopa county board restricts eligible participants to those who are first or second time offenders and excludes sex offenses and juveniles charged with violent felonies (Rodriguez, 2005), the program in Queensland allows more serious offenders, including those charged with violent crimes and sex offenses, to enter into the program (Hayes and Daly, 2004). If more serious offenders are eligible for the programs, girls may account for a lower percentage of the participants. When the eligibility requirements are restricted to less serious offenses, girls may represent a larger percentage of participants. In addition to gender differences in offending patterns, the backgrounds of girls and boys who come into contact with the juvenile justice system may differ significantly. One area where these differences are most striking is in the area of prior victimization, with a large percentage of girls involved in the system having prior histories of physical or sexual victimization. A study of girls in juvenile correctional programs conducted by the American Correctional Association (1990) found that over 60% of the girls reported prior physical abuse and fifty-



four (54%) reported prior sexual victimization. Girls in Floridas juvenile justice system are more likely than boys to have prior histories of physical and sexual abuse (Dembo et al., 1993). Histories of physical and sexual abuse play an important role in offending among adolescent girls, with many girls following a pathway from an abusive home life, to running away, and finally involvement in criminal behavior on the street as a survival strategy (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004).

Gender, social environments, and involvement in offending The lives of girls and boys differ in more ways than victimization experience. For instance, Gilligan (1982) argues that the psychological development of men and women differs, and that men and women have different values and concerns. Her research suggests that women define themselves through their relationships with others, and exhibit an ethic of care. As a result, concern and responsibility for others in social relationships is paramount. Among women, beliefs about moral behavior are guided by their sense of connection to others. In contrast, men prize competition, achievement and autonomy. Their decision making is guided by the justice ideology, in which their perceptions of right and wrong are based on laws. Although Gilligan (1982) takes no stand on whether the origins of perceived psychological differences are biological or sociological, biological differences in development and environmental differences in socialization practices are present from early childhood. Studies of childhood behavior suggest that girls mature biologically at a faster rate than boys, with girls learning to walk and talk earlier than boys (Keenan and Shaw, 1997). Therefore, girls gain the ability to verbally communicate and interact socially with others at a younger age than boys. The social environment of boys and girls also varies by gender, with parental responses to girls more likely to encourage sharing, concern for others, and prosocial behavior (Keenan and Shaw, 1997). Parents teach boys to be independent, competitive and to conform to external authority, while girls are taught the importance of communication, comfort and positive relationships with others (Block, 1984). In addition to emphasizing different values among daughters and sons, parents may reinforce different types of behavior across gender. The nature of parental responses to childrens behavior has been linked to the continuity of behavioral problems at later stages of the life course (Moffitt, 1993; Sampson and Laub, 1993). For instance, parental decisions to ignore misbehavior among daughters, and attach consequences to the same behavior among sons, may extinguish negative behavior among girls and reinforce it among boys (Fagot et al., 1985). Parents react positively to boys when they engage in assertive behavior and negatively when they attempt to communicate, while girls receive positive reactions for attempts to communicate and are exposed to higher levels of parental instruction (Fagot and Hagan, 1991). In the two previous studies, the



likelihood of sex-stereotyped responses was affected by the age of the child. Kerig and his colleagues (1993) found that parents respond negatively to fouryear-old girls who engage in assertive behavior, and positively when boys do. Fathers were also more likely to respond positively when daughters engage in compliant behavior. As a result, during childhood, girls may be taught to value relationships with others, and parents may teach them that compliant behavior and communication are important through positively rewarding these behaviors. Boys, on the other hand, may be taught to be independent and competitive, and are positively rewarded when they engage in assertive behavior. Parents may also teach boys that communication is less important, through their negative reactions. Gender differences in childhood socialization patterns, as well as differential responses to the behaviors of boys and girls, may result in a greater tendency for girls to remain law abiding (Keenan and Shaw, 1997). Research on adolescent males and females also suggests that gender influences family relationships, peer relationships and educational experiences, and that these factors may be differentially related to delinquent involvement. Gender differences in parent child relationships also exist during adolescence, and may be differentially related to involvement in delinquent behavior. For instance, Simpson and Elis (1995), using survey data from the general population, found that girls report higher levels of parental attachment during adolescence than boys but that strong parental attachments inhibit delinquency to a greater degree among boys (Simpson and Elis, 1995). In an institutional sample, Anderson and her colleagues (1999), while finding no difference in attachment levels across gender, found a similar inhibitory effect. Strong parental attachments were more likely to reduce delinquent behavior among boys than girls. Finally, Cernkovich and Giordano (1987) found that dimensions of the parent child relationship exerted dissimilar effects on delinquent involvement among boys and girls. Instrumental and intimate communication, familial control and supervision exerted stronger effects on the delinquent involvement of males. Delinquent involvement among females was most strongly influenced by identity support, instrumental communication, parental disapproval of peers, and conflict. The nature of girls and boys friendships also differ, with girls viewing close friends as more important, and supportive than boys, and reporting a greater willingness to put effort into improving the quality of friendships (Furman and Buhrmester, 1992; Moore and Boldero, 1991). But aspects of friendship, once again, may differentially influence delinquent involvement for boys and girls. Lower delinquent involvement among girls may reflect a tendency to associate with less delinquent groups (Morash, 1986) or it may be a function of the nature of friendship patterns among girls and boys. The intimacy of girls friendships may inhibit delinquency, while the pressure placed on boys by male friends to engage in risk taking behavior may increase their delinquent involvement (Giordano et al., 1986). Mears and his associates (1998) also found that girls



were less likely than boys to have delinquent friends, and that moral beliefs exert a stronger inhibitory effect on girls delinquency than boys. Even in the presence of delinquent friends, girls were less likely to engage in behavior if they believed it to be immoral. The presence of delinquent peers increases boys involvement in delinquency, independent of their beliefs about the morality of the behavior. School experiences have also been linked to delinquent behavior among boys and girls, but experiences in school may exert a greater impact on girls delinquent behavior. Anderson and her colleagues (1999) found that a strong attachment to school insulates girls from delinquent involvement, and that school attachment was unrelated to delinquent behavior among boys. Negative attitudes towards school and poor school performance are related to increased delinquency among males and females, but these factors exert a stronger effect on females (Rankin, 1980). Simpson and Elis (1995) also found that the impact of negative school experiences varies by gender, but the impact varies by type of delinquency. While the presence of educational strain more strongly affects involvement in property crime among females, the effects of educational strain exert similar levels of influence across gender in violent offending. Placement in remedial math courses exerts a greater influence on violent offending among females, but matters more for males when it comes to property offenses. As this review has illustrated, adolescent experiences within the family, peer groups and school are related to delinquent involvement, but the strength of the relationship between these factors and delinquent involvement may by gender. Programs that attempt to reintegrate offenders into society, and reduce their delinquent behavior, may need to take these differences into account.

Summary of gender differences Gilligans (1982) research on the psychological differences between men and women suggests that interpersonal relationships are more important to women, and that in decision making, women are more concerned about the impact of their behavior on others. Men, on the other hand, are more individualistic, they value logic, and perceptions of right and wrong are based on the law. These psychological differences may stem from differences in early child rearing, where parents place greater emphasis on teaching daughters to share and value communication (Block, 1984; Keenan and Shaw, 1997). Furthermore, differences in child rearing, as well as biology, may place girls and boys on different antisocial behavior pathways by the age of 4 (Keenan and Shaw, 1997). The finding that parents react differently to childhood behaviors exhibited by boys and girls is consistent with research examining the reactions of parents and juvenile justice system officials to certain status offenses. Historically, a double standard existed for involvement in certain behavior, and that double standard led to more punitive treatment of girls who violated moral standards (Bishop and Frazier, 1992; Schlossman and Wallach, 1978). Even after deinstitutionalization,



a double standard may remain, with girls who engage in repetitive status offenses being treated more punitively than boys who engage in similar behaviors (Bishop and Frazier, 1992). Research conducted with adolescents also suggests that gender modifies the relationship between causal factors and involvement in delinquent behavior. While similar causal factors (e.g. peers, aspects of the parent child relationship) are related to involvement in delinquent behavior for boys and girls, the strength of the relationship may differ across gender. For instance, strong parental attachments (Anderson et al., 1999; Simpson and Elis, 1995) and supervision levels (Cernkovich and Giordano, 1987) may have a greater inhibitory effect on delinquent involvement among boys, while parental disapproval of peers exhibits a greater inhibitory effect among girls (Cernkovich and Giordano, 1987). Girls may be less likely boys to engage in delinquent behavior because they have fewer delinquent friends (Morash, 1986; Mears et al., 1998), or the strength of the bonds among girls and their friends may render them less likely to engage in delinquent behavior (Cernkovich and Giordano, 1987). Girls may also be less susceptible to peer pressure, if they hold strong beliefs about the immorality of certain behaviors (Mears et al., 1998). School experiences may also differentially affect girls and boys. A strong attachment to school may insulate girls from delinquent involvement (Anderson et al., 1999) but poor school experiences may increase delinquent involvement among girls (Rankin, 1980). Or the impact of either positive or negative experiences at school may differ by the measure used to assess school experiences (i.e. strain or placement in remedial math) and delinquency type (Simpson and Elis, 1995). Studies examining the offending patterns and backgrounds of girls and boys who come into contact with the juvenile justice system also suggest gender matters. Overall, girls are less likely than boys to be arrested, particularly for serious violent crimes (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2004). Gender similarities are greatest for less serious property crimes, and girls represent the majority of those arrested for prostitution and running away. Furthermore, girls who enter into the juvenile justice system are more likely than boys to have prior histories of physical and sexual abuse (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004; Dembo et al., 1993).

Policy implications for juvenile and restorative justice programs general implications The juvenile justice system has been criticized both for offering gender specific programs in which traditional beliefs about the roles of men and women were reinforced and, more recently, for offering gender-neutral programs that were developed and implemented based on beliefs about what male offenders need (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004; Kempf-Leonard and Sample, 2000). In early



juvenile institutions, girls were taught to cook, clean and sew, while boys were taught the skills they would need to financially support their families. These programs reinforced the belief that the appropriate place for women was inside the home, caring for husbands and children, and reinforcing the notion that women should be dependent on men. More recently, programs offered to juvenile offenders have been characterized as gender neutral, even though they were developed to meet the needs of the largest offender population, namely males. The assumption was that girls could be integrated into these programs, and the programs would have similar effects across gender (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004; Kempf-Leonard and Sample, 2000). Few programs, however, have been based on an assessment of the actual needs of girls (Chesney-Lind and Shelden, 2004). For example, programs rarely address the need for sexual assault counseling for girls, even though a significant portion of girls who enter the system have previous histories of sexual victimization (Kempf-Leonard and Sample, 2000).

Implications for restorative justice Restorative justice practitioners should be aware of the possibility that patriarchal relationships can be reproduced in these programs. The informal nature of these programs, and the incorporation of community beliefs regarding morality, leaves open the possibility that double standards regarding behavior can be introduced, and that discussions can reinforce the belief that certain behaviors are acceptable for males, and unacceptable for females (e.g., promiscuity). Furthermore, restorative justice practitioners need to recognize that boys and girls are different, and that these differences may be relevant for the operation of the programs. For example, the greater likelihood of prior sexual and physical victimization among female offenders needs to be recognized. In programs like restorative conferencing, attempts to strengthen relationships between offenders and family members may lead to additional problems, particularly if the parent is abusive. Some of the concerns about double standards for males and females have previously been addressed with regard to sexual assault and domestic violence cases (Daly, 2002; Pranis, 2002; Presser and Gaarder, 2000), and restorative justice principles and practices can also offer solutions to the persistent problem of gender bias evident in the juvenile justice system. For example, restorative justice advocates emphasize the importance of bringing community members of the community into discussions; during these discussions gender equality in society can be addressed, and conference participants can hold male and female offenders to the same standards when they engage in the same behavior. Additionally, restorative justice practitioners need to recognize that the importance of causal factors may vary across gender. Although girls may be more attached to their parents, a focus on strengthening the attachments between



boys and their parents may differentially benefit boys, as strong parental attachments inhibit delinquency to a greater extent among boys than girls (Anderson et al., 1999; Simpson and Elis, 1995). Boys also appear to be more heavily influenced by delinquent peers and the pressure these friends place on them to engage in risky and daring acts (Mears et al., 1998; Morash, 1986). Therefore, focusing on the importance of peer relationships and resisting peer pressure may differentially affect girls and boys who are processed through these programs. Among girls, it may be more important to focus on school status, as a positive experience in school may inhibit future delinquency among girls (Rankin, 1980). It should also be noted that this school differential for girls may have important policy implications for RJ intervention, as the school community continues to be an important context for use of restorative practices (see Morrison, this issue). Although restorative justice programs were not initially developed to meet the gender-specific needs of female offenders, the philosophy underlying these programs suggests that they may be an effective option for female offenders. The focus on strengthening interpersonal relationships in an effort to reduce recidivism may be particularly relevant for girls. If girls are more concerned with interpersonal relationships, if they have better communication skills than boys (Block, 1984; Keenan and Shaw, 1997), then the lower likelihood of recidivism found among girls who are processed through family group conferences (Hayes and Daly, 2004; Rodriguez, 2005) may be attributable to differences they bring with them into the conferences. Girls may be more concerned about the impact of their behavior on victims, on their families, and on the community at large. As a result, girls may be affected to a greater degree than boys by programs that emphasize these values. Restorative justice practitioners should assess potential differences between male and female offenders, in order to determine whether strengthening different interpersonal relationships may be important for boys and girls. In short, practitioners need to recognize that there are significant differences in girls and boys lives, and that some degree of gender specific programming may be beneficial (Kempf-Leonard and Sample, 2000), within the larger context of restorative justice programming.

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Lori Elis, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.