august 2016


RSI Staff Receives Training in Child Dependency Mediation

In preparation for the projected December launch of the Kane County Child Protection Mediation Program, a partnership between RSI and the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois, RSI’s Kane County Programs Manager Kevin Malone and incoming Director of ADR Programs Eric Slepak participated in the Justice Center of Atlanta’s (JCA) July 2016 Dependency Mediation Training.

This 28-hour course helped our staff hone their mediation and system design skills. The rigorous hands-on skill-building and program administration insights will help us serve the people involved in these complex, layered cases. During the training, RSI staff dove deep into issues including: how the child welfare system impacts mediation; how to address sensitive issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse and diversity in the context of dependency mediation; and considerations when drafting agreements in these cases.

This training was a great addition to RSI’s preparation for the program.  For months now, we have been talking to our colleagues across the country, observing mediation sessions, and meeting with stakeholders, and we will continue to do this outreach to further prepare for taking on this great responsibility. Thankfully, we met a great new cadre of contacts at the training to help grow our network. As always, if you are involved in child protection mediation, we’d love to hear from you!

Many thanks to Melissa Heard, Lynn Goldman, Patricia Wright, Edie Primm and all the other wonderful staff and volunteers at the JCA.
RSI staff members Kevin Malone (left) and Eric Slepak (center) take part in a simulated mediation during the Justice Center of Atlanta’s 4-day Dependency Mediation Training.


Recidivism Reduced by Restorative Justice

by Jennifer Shack, Director of Research

A recently published study has found that juveniles who participate in restorative justice are less likely to re-offend. In “The Effectiveness of Various Restorative Justice Interventions on Recidivism Outcomes Among Juvenile Offenders” (Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 2016), Jeff Bouffard, Maisha Cooper and Kathleen Bergseth compared 284 youths referred to restorative justice processes from 2000-2005 to 267 who went through the traditional court process during the same period. Those referred to restorative justice had the opportunity to participate in one of three interventions: direct mediation (or victim-offender mediation), indirect mediation (in which the victim and offender do not meet face-to-face) or a community panel (utilized in cases with no direct victim; in this process the offender would meet with school officials, police officers and volunteer community members). The study found that all three interventions were more effective at reducing recidivism than the traditional court process.

Of the 284 youth who were referred to restorative justice, the majority (155) participated in direct mediation. Of the others, 44 participated in indirect mediation and 33 were referred to a community panel. Another 52 were referred to, but did not participate in, any of the processes. During an average 3.5 year follow-up, 50% of the traditional group had at least one re-offense (defined as a new official contact with the police), as compared to 33% for direct mediation, 24% for those who participated in a community panel and 27% for those who participated in indirect mediation. Each of these findings was statistically significant.

The study also looked at time to re-offense, but the data was less clear. The mediation interventions were found to delay any re-offense that occurred. Time to re-offense for those in the traditional group averaged about 11 months. In comparison, those who went through direct mediation averaged 12.5 months before their first re-offense, while those who went through indirect mediation averaged 22 months. However, those who participated in a community panel had a shorter time to re-offense than those in the traditional group, at 10.2 months.

The researchers used multi-variate analysis to control for other possible contributing factors. However, there is a question of whether selection bias was completely overcome. The group that was referred to restorative justice but did not participate in a process had a recidivism rate of 31%, which was significantly lower than the traditional group and comparable to the rate of those who went through direct mediation. Further, re-offense for this group averaged 18 months, longer than either the community panel or direct mediation group.  In addition, indirect mediation, in which victim and offender did not meet face-to-face, appeared to be more effective at both reducing recidivism and increasing time to re-offense.  These results are puzzling and require further examination.

RSI Board Of Directors

Terry Moritz, President
Prof. James J. Alfini
Marc Becker
Hon. Morton Denlow (ret.)
Hon. Allen S. Goldberg (ret.)
Mitchell Marinello
Raven Moore
Hon. Stephen Pacey (ret.)
Brian Roche
Hon. James Sullivan (ret.)

RSI Staff

Susan M. Yates, Exec. Director
Tim Cortes
Bridget Crawford
Matthew Flores
Mariah Heinz
Hanna Kaufman
Olga Kordonskaya
Kevin Malone
Jennifer Shack
Eric Slepak, Editor


Welcome, Tim!

RSI extends a hearty welcome to our new part-time Office Assistant, Tim Cortes! Tim will support our Administrator Bridget Crawford in executing the many day-to-day activities which have allowed our organization to grow so vibrantly over the past several years. Armed with dual backgrounds in English and math, we are confident that he will deftly handle any task we throw his way. Welcome aboard, Tim!

Farewell, Hanna!

It is with bittersweet emotions that we announce the departure of our Director of ADR Programs, Hanna Kaufman. Over the past year, Hanna has done a wonderful job overseeing our foreclosure mediation programs and the development of the Kane County Child Protection Mediation Program. RSI wishes her the best of luck in her new role as the Counsel for Innovation and Technology at the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois.

Congratulations, Eric!

Luckily, we didn’t have to look far to find a new Director of ADR Programs: RSI is excited to announce that effective August 19, Resource Center Director Eric Slepak will move to the role of Director of ADR Programs! Of course, with Eric leaving his current role, that means we need to fill his big shoes, so…

…RSI is Now Hiring!

Resolution Systems Institute is seeking a motivated, organized, collaborative professional to manage our Resource Center. Please see the job posting for more details, and share it with anyone you know who may be interested.

Mediator Training
in Macon County

From July 15-17, RSI staff conducted a training event in Macon County, IL, to educate mediators for the recently launched mortgage foreclosure mediation program in Macon County, within Illinois’ Sixth Judicial Circuit. Over the course of the two-day training, RSI helped train 19 new mediators to serve this program. Thank you to Stacey Tutt and Rommel Alvarez at the University of Illinois (who together will administer this new program), our trainers Marilyn Smith and Geoff Walsh, and all the fantastic coaches who helped bring this training event together.


Tough Love
Resource Center Director Eric Slepak shares an interesting new study on hostile mediator behaviors and explores whether such tactics are appropriate in the context of court-connected mediation programs in this new Just Court ADR blog post.


How Can We Help You? RSI offers a clearinghouse of information on and also responds to requests for information. Do you have a question about court ADR? Email us at


As you read in our feature item this month, we are fast approaching the launch of our new child protection mediation program, based in Geneva, IL. We are hoping to assist in the resolution of 72 cases this first year. Please consider making a donation below to support this and the other work RSI is doing to strengthen justice through court ADR.
 RSI Site

RSI thanks JAMS and the JAMS Foundation for their support of this publication.

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