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Neighborhood Justice Centers Field Test: Final Evaluation Report

This Executive Summary presents the findings of the National Evaluation of the Neighbourhood Justice Centers (NJCs) in summary form. The NJCs ar designed to provide mediation services for resolving interpersonal disputes as an alternative to going to court. The main purpose of the evaluation was to describe and assess the processes and impact of the three Neighbourhood Justice Centers located in Atlanta, Kansas City, and Los Angeles (Venice/Mar Vista). The results showed that the NJCs handled a sizeable number of cases (3,947) during their first 15 months of operation. A wide variety of types of disputes from several different referral services were successfully processed by the NJCs. Nearly half of all the cases referred to, the NJCs were resolved; months later the large majority of disputants reported that the agreements still held and that they were satisfied with the process. The NJCs appear to handle most interpersonal cases more efficiently than the courts— the NJC process is faster and more satisfying to the disputants. Although the NJCs did not appear to have a significant impact on court case loads, judges and other justice system officials held a positive view of the NJCs and believed that they facilitated court processes. Cases of a civil/consumer nature reached hearing less often than those of a more clearly interpersonal nature, but the interpersonal disputes tended to show a less satisfactory resolution rate upon follow-up. There were indications that the costs per case at the NJCs may become competitive with those of the courts. It was concluded that the Neighborhood Justice Centers provide a needed and effective alternative mechanism for the resolution of minor disputes. It is recommended that (1) governments support the continued development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, (2) a program of research and development should be conducted on outreach methods, (3) workshops on such mechanisms should be offered to criminal justice officials, and (4) a national research/evaluation program should be launched to assess current dispute resolution approaches.

Resource Tags

Resource Type: Impact Evidence Issues: Criminal Justice, Ethnic / Religious Minorities' Rights, Family, Legal Aid & Public Interest Law Tool Type: Reports / Research Method: Mediation & Conflict Resolution Languages: English Regions: North America Nature of Impact: Acquisition of Remedy / Entitlement / Information, Conflict resolution / Case resolution, Sense of fair process Institutions Engaged: Chief, Local legislative representative Evaluation Method: Surveys