Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention
Table of Contents
The consequence of service providers’ interventions can be profound. They can influence the probability and trajectory of criminal careers, the presence and tenor of supportive relationships, and the opportunity to collaboratively process traumatic experiences. The responsibilities, therefore, of service providers to thoughtfully design, professionally deliver, rigorously monitor, and continuously improve their interventions are as profound as their impact.
The following programmatic recommendations are motivated by a deep appreciation for this responsibility. These recommendations are rooted in challenges witnessed through firsthand observations of numerous services and trainings, pulled from stakeholder commentary, and reported by the providers themselves. They also identify gaps in services and other opportunities providers may want to consider addressing through future proposals to MOCJ and others. Finally, these recommendations are informed by the preceding overview of providers’ numerous categories and mechanisms of impact, and are intended to enhance the scale and efficiency of each, respectively. Each recommendation is accompanied by a rationale to justify its inclusion, as well as a series of related action items intended to help inform and facilitate their expedited implementation. They are as follows:
- Service providers should explore expanded applications of their existing services in ways that help further reduce criminogenic risk factors.
- Service providers should affirm their commitment to providing consistent, high- quality interventions by encouraging client feedback and systematically performing administrative observations of volunteers.
- Service providers should work to improve their training quality by incorporating pedagogical smart practices, trainee feedback, and external observers.
- Service providers should carefully construct and evaluate their interventions through organizationally-tailored Theories of Change that articulate the specific mechanisms and measures of their intended impact on crime and its prevention.
- Service providers should proactively identify, monitor, analyze, and advocate that their performance be assessed through the impact measures most directly connected to their specific interventions.
- Service providers should actively work to institutionalize both their knowledge of intervention operations and the relationships that are critical to the success of those operations.
- Service providers should carefully explore procedural modifications and programmatic supplements that would facilitate the scaling of their interventions in ways that more thoroughly address the true size of NYC’s criminogenic needs.
- Service providers should support their staff through reasonable compensation and workloads, their volunteers through reasonable reimbursements and regular continuing training opportunities, and both through measures that mitigate spillover stress and vicarious traumatization.
- Service providers should engage in an honest exploration of and thoughtful reflection upon the range of barriers to public service preferencing and utilization, and then methodically work to overcome those barriers.
Figure 35. Service Providers Should...
To help operationalize the preceding research, nine programmatic recommendations are proposed.
1. Expand Risk-Focused Services
Service providers should explore expanded applications of their existing services in ways that help further reduce criminogenic risk factors.
The diversity and scale of data-supported programming opportunities facing NYC community dispute resolution and restorative justice organizations is second to none. Should MOCJ flex its institutional influence to encourage and subsequently provide the necessary resources to ensure greater systemic utilization of mediative and restorative interventions (as recommended earlier), there are a number of program development and expansion paths worthy of careful consideration, including:
- Expanded Public Training Initiatives
- Public School Restorative Practices
- Suspension-specific Diversion Services
- Discipline-Related Special Education
- Criminal Justice Personnel Trainings
- NYCHA Development Mgmt. Trainings
- Dismissed Domestic Incident Services436
- Non-Intimate DV Interventions
- NYPD Repeat Calls for Service Referrals
- Phone-Based Mini-Coaching Service
Collectively, these proposed focus areas are based on gaps in services created through various criminal justice system processes and observed within service providers’ existing portfolios. Each gap represents an area of criminogenic importance and could, therefore, be important additions to MOCJ’s broader portfolio of crime prevention initiatives.
1.1 New Program Proposals. Work with MOCJ staff and community stakeholders to develop programming proposals that address these gaps in services.
2. Assure Service Integrity
Service providers should affirm their commitment to providing consistent, high- quality interventions by encouraging client feedback and systematically performing administrative observations of volunteers.
The difference between good and great service integrity can more than double the preventative 437 performance of select interventions. Policy-practice fidelity, adequate training of delivery personnel, and cross-provider consistency are key contributors to service integrity.438 Non-trivial variance in any of these – or all of these, as was observed at some sites – can serve to frustrate co-facilitators, detract from hard- won public confidence, and minimize intervention effectiveness. To address this, robust quality assurance and thoughtful integration of and careful adherence to program-specific smart practices439 can help safeguard intervention effectiveness,440 safety,441 and future evaluability.
2.1 Align Interventions with Smart Practices. Identify and integrate smart practices specific to each prevention-relevant program. These should include findings from meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials of aligned programming, many of which have been detailed throughout this report.
2.2 Follow Relevant Research. Invest in monitoring the latest research from service-relevant fields, such as criminology, psychology, sociology, traumatology, and victimology, among others.
2.3 Invest in Staff and Volunteer Training. Incorporate into future funding proposals investments in staff and volunteer training using the evidence-based justification that those investments improve intervention effectiveness.
2.4 Assign Service Integrity Staff Specialists. Ensure a specific staff member is assigned as the active keeper of each prevention-oriented service. These keepers should monitor implementation; regularly check-in with staff and volunteer providers; design and oversee any necessary corrective actions identified through observations, debrief sessions, and/or client feedback; and routinely coordinate refresher and advanced program-relevant trainings. These integrity specialists should take care to ensure their own knowledge of and implementation best practices for their assigned service are routinely updated. For smaller programs that may not have the available staff resources to thoroughly engage in these activities, cross-provider partnerships that incorporate a system of collegial monitoring and feedback opportunities may be an appropriate alternative.
2.5 Ensure Client Feedback Opportunities. Consistently provide client evaluation and feedback opportunities for all prevention- related programming. Ensure such feedback is regularly reviewed and routinely compared to smart practices from aligned programs elsewhere to help identify areas of improvement.
3. Assure Training Quality
Service providers should work to improve their training quality by incorporating pedagogical smart practices, trainee feedback, and external observers.
Though the ability of staff and volunteers to influence clients’ criminogenic needs is dependent upon a number of variables, the quality and resonance of their initial and ongoing trainings are decidedly central to that mix. Variance in the quality of those trainings can fundamentally alter the realized returns from ostensibly carbon interventions, complicating comparability, evaluability, and supportability between and of the respective services. While most of the trainings observed as part of this evaluation were led by UCS- approved trainers and covered similar training content, there did appear to exist a notable asymmetry in training quality between providers; an imbalance which may influence intervention effectiveness, the rate of trainees’ skills decay, and the subsequent distribution of training-attributable community impacts. This observation was mirrored by several stakeholder interviewees who had experiences referring cases to multiple service providers and who reported provider-level variance in volunteers’ knowledge and apparent skill prowess.
Concerted efforts to improve training quality by incorporating pedagogical smart practices, mixed audiences, and ongoing development opportunities can help assure quality and improve the probability of achieving the desired impacts from training and the services that rely thereupon.
3.1 Strive toward ‘Overlearning’. Incorporate pedagogical tools that encourage ‘overlearning’442 as a tool to help improve service quality and moderate skills decay.
3.2 Regularly Incorporate Training Feedback. Consistently use and incorporate the recommendations from training surveys and other methods of feedback.
3.3 Design-In Constructive Feedback Opportunities. Consider inviting training experts from outside the dispute resolution and restorative practices fields to participate in and provide constructive feedback on training events.
3.4 Design-Out Harmful Iatrogenic Reinforcers. Emphasize the inclusion of diverse audiences when offering conflict skills training, instead of groups with high concentrations of criminal/high-risk participants.443
4. Embed Prevention-Mindedness
Service providers should carefully construct and evaluate their interventions through organizationally tailored Theories of Change that articulate the specific mechanisms and measures of their intended impact on crime and its prevention.
The preventative effects of mediative and restorative interventions are powerful, but not guaranteed. Care needs to be taken to thoughtfully design, methodically implement, rigorously monitor, and routinely evaluate interventions to ensure the consequences sought are those actually produced.444
In considering their services and their intended impact, service providers should explicitly articulate their Theory of Change (TOC) for how their interventions prevent crime. Depending on their range of services and philosophical approaches to crime and its prevention, their Theories may be single or multi-aperturated; include just one, several, or something altogether different than the afore proposed mechanisms of impact; and draw insights from mediation, restorative justice, and – ideally – numerous aligned areas of research.445
Regardless their specific content, that programs engage in this naming and claiming activity is important as it helps inform internal efforts and provides a framework through which MOCJ and other partners may measure their impact. Absent such thoughtful development and articulation of prevention theories, programs risk being evaluated by MOCJ and others through measures unrelated to their interventions and/or unrealistic given the scopes and timescales at which those interventions operate.
4.1 Develop Prevention-Specific TOCs. Work to establish an overall and/or intervention-specific TOCs that articulate specific pathways through which provider’s interventions prevent crime.
4.2 Promote TOCs Among Key Stakeholders. Educate personnel, volunteers, and appropriate stakeholders on the presence and rationale motivating their specific Theories.
4.3 Capture TOC-Relevant Data. Ensure client feedback and other data collection mechanisms capture the types of data necessary to meaningfully evaluate intervention impact and otherwise contribute to a compelling narrative regarding providers’ performance in preventing crime.
5. Improve Impact Monitoring
Service providers should proactively identify, monitor, analyze, and advocate that their performance be assessed through the impact measures most directly connected to their specific interventions.
Service providers face significant challenges to securing prevention-focused investments commensurate with their impact.446 One way to address this challenge is to more decisively articulate their impact through thoughtfully choosing, monitoring, and reporting key impact metrics.
While these metrics will vary based on providers’ programming portfolios and capacity to sustain the chosen monitoring, some key prevention-relevant metrics may include: (1) the number of individuals served who report multiple criminogenic risk markers; (2) the frequency at which interventions address multi-domain needs; (3) the presence of or reference to dependent youth, even in adult-oriented conflicts; (4) the number of prior criminal justice system contacts for the current or any previous conflicts; or (5) anonymized anecdotes of accusations or admissions of criminal activity.
5.1 Include Basic Risk Assessments as a Compliment to Current Case Classifications. Incorporate additional elements of criminogenic risk assessment into intake procedures, especially if future referral volumes from criminal justice institutions experience marked increases. These assessments should move beyond the phone- based unstructured judgments447 of intake staff, and adopt more RNR-informed actuarial, anamnestic, or structured techniques,448 such as identifying specific criminogenic risks outlined in the preceding sections of this report, including the characteristics of criminally-involved, criminogenically vulnerable, and criminogenically influential individuals enumerated within the 'Target Clarification' policy recommendation.
5.2 Identify Intervention-Specific Metrics Indicative of Prevention Relevance/Impact. Determine metrics based on providers’ specific interventions, their TOC, and the metrics’ probability of resonance with key funders.
5.3 Collect and Regularly Analyze Key Data. Integrate collection and monitoring of the identified metrics into the appropriate intake and data management processes.
5.4 Use Data to Support Reporting Narratives. Incorporate the reporting of these metrics into MOCJ and other relevant programming updates.
6. Institutionalize Critical Functions
Service providers should actively work to institutionalize both their knowledge of intervention operations and the relationships that are critical to the success of those operations.
The economic, psychological, and societal values generated from service providers’ interventions deserve better systemic protections than is offered by uncertain career trajectories or the tenuous personal relationships upon which those interventions rely. Service providers should work to insulate their staffs, volunteers, and prospective clients from service disruptions by institutionalizing intervention-critical knowledge and relationships. This includes chronicling key processes; maintaining accessible, detailed records; and regularly updating those processes and records with lessons learned from participating staff and volunteers. It also means working to formalize relationships in ways that reduce their vulnerability to regular or unexpected employment or priority transitions.
6.1 Audit & Augment Existing Documentation. Undertake an audit of all existing operational records related to each contract- dependent intervention to determine if adequate documentation exists such that an unfamiliar staffer could reasonably assume responsibility and effective management of each service while incurring minimal disruption. For those services where adequate documentation is lacking, begin a process of collecting and systematizing records and knowledge to achieve the aforementioned objective.
6.2 Routinely Capture Volunteer Knowledge. Regularly debrief volunteers regarding their experience with administrative and intervention-specific processes to incorporate their insights into ongoing documentation and improvement efforts.
6.3 Incorporate Exit Interviews into Knowledge Management Practices. Incorporate the use of exit interviews for all intervention-critical staff members to help identify and moderate any pending knowledge loss.
6.4 Advocate for Strategic Institutionalization. Actively advocate that referral and other service-critical partners institutionalize their relationships with the service provider through such recommendations as establishing multiple cross-personnel relationships, integrating referral opportunities into those stakeholders’ own internal procedural documentation, or agreeing to formal memoranda of understanding.
6.5 Ensure Documentation Storage Redundancy. Maintain backups of any intervention- critical documentation on a separate physical or online document storage system (e.g. Google Drive or Dropbox).
Figure 36. Referral Partnership Efficiency, Impact, and Potential
Service providers partner with a range of criminal justice institutions, the referral potentials of which are uniformly and unfortunately unrealized, despite providers’ continual efforts to the contrary. To help providers realize the latent potential within these partnerships, MOCJ should lend its institutional influence to both publicly and pointedly encourage expanded, meaningful use of providers’ interventions. As this is done, and in those instances where productive partnerships are already in place, service providers should work to formalize their relationships, such as through the use of memorandums of understanding and encouraging their integration into partners’ internal policies and procedures.
7. Enhance Service Scalability
Service providers should carefully explore procedural modifications and programmatic supplements that would facilitate the scaling of their interventions in ways that more thoroughly address the true size of NYC's criminogenic needs.
Numerous intervention proposals featured in this report highlight the potential of providers’ system-wide impact given the necessary resources to operate at scale. The prospect of such impact is decidedly enticing when projected at scale: the equivalent of 400 new police officers, reclaiming nearly 100,000 lost education days, saving dozens of additional lives from conflict-related homicides. While these achievements are possible, service providers’ internal systems are not currently optimized to operate at such scale, and the labor449 and emotional450 intensities of their interventions complicates the journey toward that scale.451
As such, service providers should invest in the development of a roadmap for how to scale up their interventions. For example, all providers may want to prioritize further development of automated online intake and scheduling tools to supplement their current, laborious phone intake procedures.
As a specific programming example, NYPI could augment its in-person NYPD training through the development of short, skills- oriented videos and other interactive digital content that could be integrated into the new NYPD U app featured on officers’ departmental phones. That new content could be viewable while on patrol in the very moments leading up to challenging police-community encounters, reinforcing the in-person training and helping to hasten the spread of those skills throughout the force.
Implementing these and other procedural modifications and programmatic supplements would help realize the true potential of these services, as has been suggestively highlighted in several of the examples included within this report.
7.1 Optimize Online Resources. Audit organizational online including intake forms, and work to maximize their viewability, scheduling utility.
7.2 Minimize Inadvertent Exclusions. Review screening protocol to help minimize inadvertent and unnecessary preemptive service disqualifications. This should include updates to screening protocol that incorporate the expanded client qualifications outlined in the afore offered ‘Target Clarification’ policy recommendation, as well as a thoughtful re- examination of whether and when services may be appropriate for prospective clients involved452 in non-intimate domestic violence.
7.3 Integrate Barrierless Coaching. Consider the integration of formal, phone- based conflict coaching services to be provided directly by intake staff for those prospective clients who are resistant to in- person services.
7.4 Develop & Monitor Access to Self- Service Resources. Consider the development of downloadable guides detailing how neighbors can constructively engage one another in conflict situations without needing to engage law enforcement or service providers.453
8. Sustain Agent Care
Service providers should support their staff through reasonable compensation and workloads, their volunteers through reasonable reimbursements and regular continuing training opportunities, and both through measures that mitigate spillover stress and vicarious traumatization.
Given the centrality of staff and volunteers to the effective delivery of service providers’ interventions,454 continued investment in their development and in support of their sustainable working conditions is essential. As encouraged through infrastructure investments in the ‘Fiscal Optimizing’ policy recommendation, service providers should (1) prioritize financial investments to its uncomfortably undercompensated staffs, (2) prioritize the hiring of additional staff to assist with any future program expansions,455 (3) design UCS-approved volunteer compensation/ accommodation plans,456 and (4) re- /institute a regular schedule of volunteer and staff continuing training opportunities to help sharpen skills, minimize spillover stress and vicarious traumatization, sustain organizational connectedness, and fuel individual and professional passions.
Of particular note, is the need to invest in training and procedures that help minimize the received stress of working in high- conflict contexts. For example, spillover stress457 resulting from particularly challenging, emotive, or sensitive interventions has the potential to negatively affect volunteers’ and staff members’ well- being, as well as their personal and professional relationships.458 Beyond the cognitive and emotionally demanding work of assisting others through often-painful conflicts, administrative stressors related to contracting delays and underfunded programs take a further toll on the mental well-being of provider staff.459 This combination of adversarial and administrative stressors, coupled with the fact that some employees maintain multiple outside employment roles – some reporting four or more additional positions – has understandably contributed to burnout and precarious, untimely turnovers.
Given this, service providers should consider funding that is aimed at minimizing staff and volunteer stressors as a strategic infrastructure investment. This is part of a strategic approach to contracting that ensures the full costs of all services contracted with the City are adequately covered in the negotiated rate. Failure to do so undermines program quality, heightens financial precarity,460 and perpetuates an organizational starvation cycle.461
8.1 Invest in Staff. Review staff salaries and compensation packages to determine their competitiveness within broad NYC nonprofit compensation practices.462 Where deficiencies exist, incorporate within future funding proposals the appropriate allocation toward staffing that would help correct any ongoing compensation deficiencies and improve the organization’s human infrastructure.
8.2 Factor COLA into Multi-Year Proposals. Include cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and other necessary staff and volunteer support in future MOCJ funding proposals.
8.3Maintain an Active Schedule of Continuing Training Opportunities. Develop a continuing education schedule that is staff-sensitive, volunteer-accessible, and reliably sustainable. Include within that schedule content and resources related to self-care. Where individual providers may be unable to wholly coordinate such a schedule alone, consider partnering with another provider, a local ADR college/university program, or other community entity for support.
8.4 Prioritize Naturally Receptive Volunteers. Seek to identify and train volunteer mediators and Peacemakers who possess naturally conciliatory dispositions463 to help minimize the cognitive strain of volunteering.
8.5 Validate Volunteers through Case Updates. Where possible, supply volunteers with case updates to help satisfy their curiosity as to whether their services have contributed meaningful, lasting impact, and to motivate their continued contributions.464
8.6 Survey Volunteers. Conduct an anonymous survey of volunteers to solicit feedback on areas of improvement related to the volunteering experience and related organizational processes.
9. Address 'Last Mile' Impediments
Service providers should engage in the honest exploration of and thoughtful reflection upon the range of barriers to public service preferencing and utilization, and then methodically work to overcome those barriers.
The last mile of service delivery represents a critical precipice between potential and performance. Investments in conflict interventions will not alone maximize their own returns, nor will ease of access ensure economies of application. Despite awareness and accessibility of these services, many will still choose reactionary, regrettable, and ruinous approaches to conflict engagement.
Seeking to understand what makes those approaches desirable can help providers position their own services as more apparent and acceptable alternatives465 and can help overcome common, substantive barriers faced during client intake.466
Given these caveats – and acknowledging any lack of public awareness does not constitute the totality of its utilization reservations – service providers should actively seek to more fully appreciate the socio-structuro-cognitive barriers that impede service preferencing.
Similarly, these processes also regularly fail to secure the administrative attention or funding necessary to demonstrate potential beyond their perpetually relegated pilot or pet statuses. Within the broad expanse of criminal justice institutions, providers languish in systemic precarity, dependent upon a single funder, a single referral source, or single case type to secure even subsistence-level activity and impact. The ultimate effect is a collective inertial akrasia restricting the promulgation and potency of resolution and restorative practices. As this unfortunate state is attributable, at least in part, to providers’ own conceptual dissonance,467 an earnest examination of the root causes of this condition is key to correcting its course.
9.1 Identify and Address Specific Reservations. Actively engage in public outreach not exclusively to attract clients, but also to collect impressions of and chronicle hesitations to engage in those services. This outreach could include online surveys that target specific NYC populations whom providers may want to reach, but who have been reluctant to engage.
9.2 Learn from Rejection. Consider following-up with disinterested victims after one month to confirm their preference.468
9.3 Simultaneously Test Divergent Messaging. Invest in A/B testing of website and/or other promotional materials to evaluate the effectiveness of different messages or outreach methods.
9.4 Create an Outreach Learning Community. Consider sharing lessons learned through outreach efforts in a collaborative learning community with fellow NYC providers and/or broader state/national networks.469
9.5 Creatively Leverage Aligned Research. Leverage insights from network sciences, such as the friendship paradox, to help further develop public interest in and distribute the impacts from providers’ interventions.470
9.6 Creatively Leverage External Data. Leverage external sources of data to identify conflict trends (e.g. conflict-related online search data471), community needs (e.g. DYCD needs assessment survey), and criminal justice system and system-adjacent service gaps (e.g. NYC OpenData).
9.7 Anticipate Service Demand Fluctuations. Demand for providers’ interventions is influenced by a number of predictable variables. Scheduling resource allocations in ways that are more responsive to cyclical or serious events, such as summer heat,472 and standardized testing473 can help maximize utilization. Among other considerations, this includes ensuring higher levels of volunteer availability during the summer months.
Figure 37. NYPI’s Recent Media Coverage
NYPI is the nation’s most effective community dispute resolution organization at raising broad public awareness of the availability of constructive conflict engagement services. NYPI’s coverage by outlets with hyper-local, highly specialized, and global reader, listener, and viewerships is a testament to the resonance of its message and the runaway success of its messengers. This success notwithstanding, there remain considerable, largely unexplored impediments to greater public utilization of NYPI and the other service providers. Working to identify and overcome these hurdles is central to extending their impact.
436. In one analysis that excluded ACDs, half of all domestic violence (DV) felony cases (50.7%), nearly two- thirds of DV misdemeanor cases (63.1%), and half of all DV violations (48.8%) were dismissed by prosecutors. Indeed DV cases have a higher non-ACD dismissal rate than non-DV cases. Many of these dismissals were undoubtedly influenced by the difficulty associated with victim-witness cooperation. It is also likely that the criteria required for use by of officers in determining arrestable domestic offenses is of a higher standard than prosecutors’ confidence in pursuing those charges toward a successful outcome. In fact, police and prosecutor data reviewed for this evaluation has revealed that 4,000 to 6,000 arrests for subfelony domestic violence receive non-ACD dismissed each year for reasons other than victim non-compliance. The consequence resulting from these dismissals is the return of many offenders into a now further escalated conflict dynamics with little or no follow-up monitoring or services deployed. In such cases where the arresting criteria was more reflective of an interpersonal dispute without the presence or high probability of intimate partner violence, a referral to a conflict assistive intervention would help defuse the ongoing tension and reduce the need for future law enforcement, prosecutorial, or judicial involvement. Sources for data analysis: Barry, J.A. (2016); Kutateladze, B.L., Andiloro, N.R. (2014); Klein, A.R. (2009).
437. For cognitive-behavioral programs, one meta-analysis attributed participation to a 25% reduction in subsequent offender recidivism. Among those programs noted for the high quality of their implementation and provider training, however, the reduction in recidivism was more than 50% (Lipsey, M., Landenberger, N.A., Wilson, S.J., 2007).
438. In a meta-analyses of 58 randomized controlled trials and trials with comparative control groups, the most effective cognitive-behavioral programs were identified as those “where the programme is implemented according to guidelines, and where the providers have received appropriate training” (Lipsey, M., Landenberger, N.A., Wilson, S.J., 2007).
439. For example, DuBois and colleagues (2002) outline in their “theory-based best practices index” 11 features that are commonly observed within and recommended for effective prevention-oriented mentoring programs. These include: “(1) monitoring of program implementation; (2) screening of prospective mentors; (3) matching of mentors and youth on the basis of one or more relevant criteria; both (4) prematch and (5) ongoing training; (6) supervision; (7) support group for mentors; structured activities for (8) mentors and (9) youth; (10) parent support or involvement component; (11) and expectations for both frequency of contact and length of relationships.” The cumulative effect of incorporating numerous practices from this index significantly enhances the effectiveness of mentor programs.
440. In a summary of McLaren’s (2000) recap of ‘What Works’ in prevention programs are the notes to “[make] interventions well-structured and focused” and “[make] sure programs are run the way they are designed and intended to be run.”
441. Particularly of note for offending-involved restorative practices is the reminder to ensure the intervention serves as a safe space for all participants. Even in some of the best designed interventions, this can be difficult to achieve given the sensitivity of the matters discussed and the raw emotionality from many of those discussing them. For example, in certain UK-based interventions, “[restorative] conferences were not stress- free or unemotional experiences for offenders,” as they had “more stigmatizing names and labels applied to them, experienced more harassment, and were shouted at more than offenders who were randomly assigned to court” (Barnes, G.C., et al., 2015).
442. “Overlearning” is a pedagogical tool particularly well-suited for interpersonal skills training, such as conflict, para/mediation, and restorative skills topics, that trains beyond initial proficiency and serves to extend the knowledge/skill decay rate across longer retention intervals (i.e. time between practice). For a review of overlearning and other tools, particularly as they influence skill decay and retention, see: Arthur, W., et al. (1998).
443. In terms of prevention modalities, aggregating high-risk adolescents into training cohorts can have a negative iatrogenic effect upon subsequent criminal activity, particularly amongst older and highest-risk participants (Dishion, T.J., McCord, J., Poulin, F., 1999). In essence, peer-based trainings can inadvertently reinforce, rather than mitigate, problem behaviors. Mixed training cohorts that include parents and other community representatives can help mitigate this effect.
444. “Crime prevention benefits do not flow inevitably, simply as a result of a restorative dialogue. They need to be identified, fashioned and attention paid to their realisation whilst balancing other restorative principles. There also need to be an awareness of the limitations of community involvement, a close attention to securing procedural justice and recognition of the dangers of justifying interventions by reference to possible preventive benefits that might accrue” (Italian Ministry of Justice, 2010; referencing: Braithwaite, J., 1999).
445. Mediation and restorative justice are vibrant, yet narrow circles of research and practice. Service providers have much to gained from exploring aligned areas of research such as those identified in supra note 6. Hopefully, the notes and references within this report serve, in part, to inspire such exploration.
446. Criminology’s vogue prevention positivism – the notion that easily quantifiable interventions reign supreme – substantially disadvantages community mediation and restorative justice programming due to their historic use of abstract measures of impact, their outsider status (and their resulting difficulty in obtaining insider prevention-relevant data), and their longue durée approach to shifting society away from destructive conflict, harm, and associated criminality.
447. Unstructured clinical judgments as a predictor of future violent behavior notoriously underperforms and is “no longer a useful or necessary approach to appraising violence risk” (Heilbrun, K., Yasuhara, K., Shah, S., 2010). For a meta-analysis of unstructured clinical judgments’ shortcomings, see: Ægosdóttir et al., (2006).
448. Some mix of anamnestic and actuarial assessments is likely the best approach for the service providers given their routine exploration of past confrontations (i.e. anamnestic assessment) and their existing intake procedures (i.e. actuarial assessment). While the implementation of a more structured assessment process would help improve providers’ ability to more directly indicate the criminal relevance of their programming, providers’ and partners’ analyses of the results should readily acknowledge that even the best assessment practices, using advanced analytics and specialty trained personnel can only achieve 70% accuracy in predicting recidivism (James, N., 2015; citing: Latessa, E.J., Lovins, B., 2010). As such, these assessments should be framed as relevance indicative rather than recidivism determinant.
449. The personalized nature of service providers’ interventions, which on the one hand contributes toward their elevated preventative performance, frustrates their economical or expedient scaling, on the other. While providers share this precarious position with other human services entities (see supra note 426), it is a position from which they must strive to pivot if they are to adequately capitalize on elevated future investment and referral opportunities.
450. Indeed, the emotional intensity of select restorative interventions may itself be an impact-influential quality vulnerable to efforts that over economize its dependent processes. To this point, Abramson (2015) cautions: “As Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices become more mainstream, we caution that it may be tempting to be overly-efficient about how these processes are implemented – as if they were highly routinizable techniques – without taking the time and care necessary to fully nurture the emotional engagement of participants. Restorative processes, however, will deliver their full potential for healing, learning and transformation only when they consistently provide a space for participants to be fully emotional, fully human, and – as follows – fully humane.”
451. For example, current practices frequently commit intake personnel to multiple preparatory interactions with prospective clients – sometimes for hours on end – only to have one or both of the clients ultimately decline in-person participation. Similarly, Peacemaking services can require laborious intake; multiple, hours-long in- person sessions; and intensive follow-up per intervention. In both, client benefits are distributed, but for neither could the same processes be reasonably replicated orders beyond their current rate without significant infrastructure and procedural modifications.
452. Non-stranger dispute-related violence – a broad category in which intimate partner violence (IPV) is situated – is a prolific occurrence (93% of families report verbal aggression and 60% report physical aggression; McNeely, R.L., Cook, P.W., Torres, J.B., 2001) that is generally characterized by the following: seriousness discounting by participants and criminal justice representatives; victim underreporting; majority non- recidivistic offending (collectively: Hessnick, C.B., 2007); victim non-cooperation during investigations and prosecution (Klein, A.R., 2009); systemic discounting of victim preferences for non-punitive interventions (Gruber, A., 2007); elevated rates of non-ACD dismissals (Kutateladaze, B.L., Andiloro, N.R., 2014); and high rates of victim-offender overlap. Combined, these characteristics are highly suggestive as to the suitability of mediative or restorative interventions in at least carefully selected cases. For example, domestic violence within the context of adolescent-to-parent abuse is one area where restorative interventions are welcomed as “effective remedial and non-criminalizing methods of reparation” (Holt, A., 2015).
Even directly to the matter of domestic violence, though, some researchers are reconsidering the appropriateness of blanket exclusion policies given the different forms of IPV (Kelly, J.B., Johnson, M.P., 2008) and given the potential of restorative justice, through its inducement of truth-telling, to assist victims in their recovery from IPV-associated trauma (Hopkins, C.Q.; 2012). Accordingly, some policymakers are following suit, noting: “while restorative justice will not be appropriate in every case, it should not be excluded simply by reason of the type of offence committed” (Justice Committee, 2016). Regardless providers’ ultimate stance on providing services to domestic violence-involved conflicts, careful review of their related screening instruments would be a worthy undertaking to ensure appropriate cases involving non- stranger dispute-related violence are not being unnecessarily excluded out of an abundance of caution against engaging IPV cases. For more on the latest policy and practice of using restorative interventions in cases of IPV, see: Garber, M.L. (2016); and Gelsthorpe, L. (2016).
453. The Australia Dispute Resolution Boards (2015) has designed a helpful example of this type of neighbor guide that NYC programs may want to adopt for their own purposes.
454. The effective implementation of crime prevention services is dependent upon, among other factors, “staff who are able to relate to young people easily, establishing warm and friendly relationships, but also setting limits and enforcing the rules” (McLaren, K.L., 2000).
455. Minimal staffing can negatively impact day-to-day operational and longer-term strategic functioning. Unfortunately, the consequences of such approaches to staffing were observed at several times during this evaluation, as operations were negatively impacted when employees at various providers were out with illness, summonsed to jury duty, and even submitted an unexpected resignation.
456. Volunteer compensation has been an issue of thoughtful debate throughout NYS and the broader community mediation movement nationally for some time, with many administrators discouraging such compensation, Still, it is notable that several volunteer interviewees privately pulled the evaluator aside to indicate their impending or recent reductions or cessation of volunteer activity as a direct result to the lack of financial support and unreliable assignments. While the continued integration of one-party services such as conflict coaching can help partially address the frustration of client no-shows, the lack of compensation remains a troublesome state, even for some of these programs’ most ardent advocates.
457. Spillover stress refers to psychological stress that occurs in one domain of a person’s life (e.g. family, work, social, etc.) and produces a negative affect in another unrelated domain. Effects from routine spillover stress can last up to eight hours, which for service provider personnel who routinely engage in the provision of intervention services, could result in affective spillover stress that lasts the entirety of their awake, non- working workweek.
458. The specific psychological mechanisms through which spillover stress influences interpersonal relationships include heightened states of arousal that predispose interveners to subsequent interpersonal conflict, disinhibition, and cognitive priming effects (Bolger, N., et al., 1989b).
459. “Managing a human services organization in 2016 is among the most challenging jobs in New York” (Stix, M., 2016).
460. Human service nonprofits experiencing problems with government contracts and grants are increasingly relying upon drawing down reserves to cover shortfalls (Pettijohn, S.L., et al., 2013), reserves that for many (60%) are precariously low (3 months or less) if existent at all (Stix, M., 2016). Within the nonprofit world, CDRCs are particularly harmed by contracting delays, as they often lack any meaningful financial reserves or near-term alternative funding prospects (Corbett, W.E.H., Corbett, J.R., 2011).
461. See supra note 426.
462. As a reference to existing compensation practices among NYC nonprofits, service providers’ executive staffs may want to review the PNP Staffing Group’s (2016) 2015-2016 Nonprofit Salaries & Staffing Report.
463. “Selection of facilitators based on innate ability is more important than experience or practice in generating procedural justice from restorative justice conferences” (Sherman, L.W., et al., 2015b).
464. Throughout the evaluator’s conversations with volunteer mediators and Peacemakers, their desire to affirm the value of their services was a common refrain. Martin Applebaum, a CMS volunteer mediator, perfectly summed this interest when he noted: “as volunteers, we invest everything into the work at the table, but are then left wondering whether those efforts made a lasting difference, whether the experience reverberated within their family and the broader community.”
465. Understanding the psychology behind combative dispute preferencing has been stymied by the presumption of rationality in many models of consumer behavior. By revealing the mechanics of disputants’ apparent irrationality, though, they become susceptible to nudge-inducing policies and practices that help debias misoptimizing consumers (/combatants), thereby improving outreach returns and case conversion rates (Allcott, H., Mullainathan, S., Taubinsky, D., 2011). Designing nudge and tug tactics into individual and referral partners’ choice architectures can facilitate the normalizing of providers’ alternatives. For more on nudge theory and its applications, see: Thaler, R.H., Sunstein, C.R. (2008); Dolan, P., et al. (2010).
466. For example, many service providers struggle with the dichotomy of positioning their interventions as eminently doable while still needing to convey the rigorous professionalism and expertise required of the facilitators who help guide clients through those processes. The ease of participation should not be – though often is – conflated with a presumed ease of successful facilitation. This common deductive fallacy frustrates providers’ efforts to secure client buy-in when unskilled or biased family and friends had unsuccessfully attempted informal pseudo-mediative interventions previously. Appreciating why the public frequently conflates participation and practice can help inform the development of an accessible, yet more nuanced message along the lines of: ‘You can do it, but your friend cannot reasonably do it for you.’
467. The community mediation and restorative justice practice areas have a historic, principled aversion to the numerous ways legal institutions have – covertly or candidly, but nonetheless – capably tilted members from their communal axis. Indeed, much has been written within the alternative dispute resolution and restorative justice spheres during the decades long hand-wringing over such notions as co-optation ( Coy, P.G., Hedeen, T., 2005), formalization (Zekoll, J., Bälz, M., Amelung, I., 2014), institutionalization (ADR: Press, S., 1997; Community Mediation: Hedeen, T., 2003; and Restorative Justice: Aertsen, I., Daems, T., Robert, L., 2012), juridification (Brooker, P., 1999), routinization (Alfini, J., et al., 1994), and technicization (Langer, R., 1998).
Operationally, this often manifests as procedural relationships which – due to the respective partners’ gravitational asymmetry – effectively shift community dispute resolution organizations from their community orientation and toward the interests of their institutional partners. Though these shifts can occur in subtle or spectacular fashion, but their consistent consequence is an accelerating distraction from their titular and true concerns: community disputes and their distressed. Perennially wary of this outcome, CDRCs nevertheless navigate the role realities that lead toward funding and referral promise. They accept institutional funding with an eye toward its communal reinvestment, and they open themselves to institutional referrals with the objective of restoring communal concern to the cold codes of criminal charges. The proficiency with which individual organizations are able to annul this asymmetry and innocuously incorporate institutional interests varies, but it can almost certainly be enhanced through open dialogue with and the informed concern of their partners.
468. According to Bryce and colleagues (2016), a follow-up one month after initial victim outreach is recommended, as this allows a reasonable time for victims to appreciate the gravity of any ongoing impact and to determine whether their existing support network and/or related services have adequately addressed their needs.
469. Example networks that could facilitate such a learning community include NYSDRA, the National Association for Community and Restorative Justice, the National Association for Community Mediation, and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation.
470. In addition to leveraging the friendship paradox to help further public awareness and constructive propagation, it “can be crucial for identifying hidden subpopulations” such as influential offenders by “track[ing] down the co-offenders of a randomly selected group of offenders, [who – according to the friendship paradox–] will be more important in the criminal network as a whole” (Grund, T.U., 2014).
471. A county-level statewide analysis of online, conflict-related search queries was conducted for New York in 2015 (Corbett, J.R., 2015b, September). Among other insights, that analysis discovered family-related conflicts constituted roughly a third of New Yorkers’ conflict focus, and included such topics as ‘Abuse, Harassment, Intimidation, and Violence;’ ‘Parent-Child Conflicts;’ and ‘Family ADR.’ Examining the specific terms frequently used in those and other topics of service provider interest can help refine providers’ understanding of how the public prioritizes frames for their conflicts and their preferred resolutions, and then develop more resonant public outreach to more effectively appeal to those experiencing such conflicts.
472. Within the larger framework of the “temperature-aggression hypothesis,” the “heat hypothesis” has consistently shown indirect, correlative effects on affective, arousal, behavioral, and cognitive variables, including endorsement of aggressive attitudes and beliefs, biases toward the interpretation of hostility in otherwise ambiguous social interactions, and increases in both impulsivity and violence (Anderson, C.A., 2001; Anderson, C.A., et al., 2000). Amidst ethnically diverse populations, in particular, acute climatic conditions such as heat waves and natural disasters can serve as a threat multiplier for violent conflict (Schleussner, C.-F., et al.; 2016).
473. Based on an analysis of online search queries related to student-teacher and school-related peer conflicts, interests in these specific conflict contexts cyclically spike alongside Spring semester standardized testing regimens (Corbett, J.R., 2016).