From schools to prisons: Disciplinary policy brings incarceration
One of the most alarming trends affecting our children today is what has become known as the “school to prison pipeline,” a term used to describe an all too common reality for poor-performing students. First they are academically unsuccessful, then their misbehavior results in school disciplinary action, then their misbehavior puts them into the juvenile justice system, then they leave school prematurely and eventually end up as incarcerated adults.
Nationally, students who do not graduate are three times more likely to be incarcerated.
We are losing too many young people down this pipeline for the good of our souls and of our society. The problem calls for the creation of coordinated and creative approaches by our court systems and our school systems.
East Lansing advocate: Jury award should impact bullying
A jury verdict that found a Michigan school district liable for $800,000 in damages to a student who was the victim of bullies should reinforce that bullying can't be tolerated, an East Lansing advocate says.
"This really should be a call to schools that, in the eyes of our legal system, bullying is something that can no longer be overlooked," Kevin Epling said.
Workplace bullying and restorative justice – how to help the families left behind
A feature article on workplace bullying in The Age newspaper on 10 March 2010 has the additional or secondary benefit of again raising the relevance of “restorative justice” to the issue of occupational safety and health.
The main element of the article is the McGregor family who had two children commit suicide over related issues. The son, Stuart McGregor, described as being chronically depressed, was being bullied at work. He confided in his sister, Angela McGregor, over the issues. Angela had been bullied at school. [Angela] killed herself. A month later, Stuart followed.
Mar 16, 2010 Workplaces
Earby teens say ‘sorry’ for church vandalism
Three teenagers who vandalised a church have apologised for their actions.
In youth court, the teens admitted smashing windows at All Saints Church, Earby, causing £15,000 worth of damage in September.
They also pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to cause damage at the former vicarage next to the church.
As part of their punishment, three of the four teenagers involved agreed to attend a meeting with church members as part of a restorative justice order, which allows offenders to make amends directly to the people or organisations they have harmed.
Calling a circle....
What does it mean when we say, “We’re calling a circle?” In the context of restorative practices I take it to mean that we are clearing a space where community can enter. It may or it may not choose to do so. But sitting in circle is the best we’ve got to silence the din and distraction of daily life and risk finding out that beneath whatever differences we may have on the surface we are connected deeply by what we have in common.
Authentic community is rare and it is safe. It is the opposite of that place we mostly inhabit filled with masks, anxiety, invisibility, power and imbalance. Circles done well open a place for empathy, respect, empowerment, and direct communication for authentic ‘human being.’ Restorative circles are used for sentencing, for reconciliation, for healing, for celebration, for talking and for educating.
Offenders and their children
I was saddened to see that a provision requiring judges to consider the impact on an offender’s children before ordering a custodial sentence was removed from legislation being debated in Scotland. The provisions were removed from the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill to allow more time to debate other contentious issues. While I don’t live in Scotland, I was disappointed by this move because the incarceration of a parent can negatively impact children in several ways:
- Financial instability and hardship (possibly increased)
- Instability in family relationships and structure
- School behaviour and performance problems
- Shame, social and institutional stigma
So, I wondered how a justice system informed by restorative values would respond to the needs of offenders’ children. Here are a few thoughts:
Mar 15, 2010 Correspondent:Lynette Parker
The Sanctuary Model: A restorative approach for human services organizations.
The Sanctuary Model is a non-hierarchical, highly participatory, “trauma-informed and evidence-supported” operating system for human services organizations, which helps them function in a humane, democratic and socially responsible manner and thereby provide effective treatment for clients in a clinical setting. The model is entirely congruent with restorative practices, in that it is about working with people instead of doing things to them or for them.
Not a specific treatment intervention, the Sanctuary Model provides a structure and common language for people in human services fields to communicate and collaborate with each other. Said Dr. Sandra Bloom, developer of the model: “Social workers, psychiatrists and nurses don’t share a common way of working with clients. The Sanctuary Model gets everybody on the same trauma-informed page.”
Death row lets victims' families down
Most debates about the criminal justice system and restorative justice are criticised for not focusing enough on the impact that violence has on victims and their families. Those objections multiply tenfold when the issue at hand is capital punishment: bring up the subject and many death penalty supporters will say that executions are the only way to meet survivors' needs for justice and closure, and that to oppose capital punishment is to be anti-victim. "What if it was your own son or mother?" they ask. "Wouldn't you want the perpetrator die at the hands of our justice system?"
As it turns out, the truth is rather different. During last week's fourth world congress against death penalty in Geneva, the voices of murder victims' families painted a picture seldom seen in the media. For a variety of reasons, a growing number of families do not support capital punishment. However, all families face decades of legal appeals over the execution of the perpetrator – a truly agonising wait for anyone seeking closure.
New payback justice: Both sides of the fence
Ruth Edmunds and Peter Woolf have been on either side of the Restorative Justice programme – and both believe it works.
Ruth decided to meet a teenage boy who was in a gang of three vandals that wrecked a Scout hut in Poynton, Cheshire, where she worked as a volunteer.
Peter's life changed for ever when he met the man he attacked and left bleeding during a burglary. Seven years on, he hasn't reoffended.
Kitchener seniors’ programs get federal funding
from the article in The Record.com:
The Alzheimer Society and Community Justice Initiatives were awarded federal funding for two seniors’ programs.
The Alzheimer Society of Kitchener Waterloo got more than $18,000 for their Memory Fit program, which is a community based recreational program for seniors in the early stage of dementia and their care partners for peer support and social interaction.
Mar 11, 2010 Practice