Restorative justice and its effects on (racially disparate) punitive school discipline
from the paper by David Simpson:
....Finally, I investigated whether the implementation of Restorative Justice significantly reduced racial disproportionality in school discipline vis-à-vis African American students. In particular, I analyzed whether the disparity in black suspension percentage as compared to white suspension percentage—measured by the difference between black suspension percentage and white suspension percentage)—was reduced by a greater amount in schools that implemented Restorative Justice than in those that did not.
I confined my analysis on this point to only those schools that had white as well as black enrollment of over 20 students. I did so because otherwise small fluctuations in total suspension numbers and/or enrollment numbers would have improperly skewed my results.
Voluntary participation in restorative practices
A restorative justice facilitator shall conduct a restorative justice practice based on the principle of voluntary participation for all participants. Voluntary participation means that the participants in the restorative justice process have come to the meeting by choice.
Review: Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice
While restorative justice is a theory that encompasses a set of values for how justice should be done, maintaining those values and the restorative focus can become difficult in day-to-day practice. People working in restorative justice organisations – whether staff or volunteers – make a myriad of decisions related to practices each day. Such decisions may be related to work with clients, work with other organisations or internal processes and interactions. How can they make these decisions while maintaining the integrity of their restorative justice programme?
Susan Sharpe seeks to answer this question with Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice. In the 62 page publication, Sharpe sets out a process that organisations and individual practitioners can use to develop an ethics framework to empower and guide decisionmaking. In doing so, she avoids the contentious issue of setting standards by developing the steps in a process that each organisation can use to develop a framework that has direct meaning for it and the various issues that it faces.
Can restorative justice help balance the scales for African-American youth?
Darryl is a 12-year-old African American boy whose mother, Ariel, is a single parent. Ariel left high school after becoming pregnant with Darryl and has struggled to find anything but minimum wage jobs to support her family.
One day when he was out with another friend, Darryl and his friend snuck into the neighbor's house and stole a video game. The neighbors called the police.
One might conclude that the future does not bode well for Darryl. In fact, we probably would not be surprised if we were to learn later on that he was in prison. However, there is much more to his story, and much to learn from it. The police response ultimately resulted in a restorative intervention and provided Darryl with an alternative approach.
Child Justice Act undercut from within
Even before it began the rocky climb through the parliamentary process, the Child Justice Bill was considered to be internationally path-breaking legislation. It was born in the euphoria of the early 1990s in a country where youth had been considered politically lethal, whipping was a sentence, imprisonment the standard response to wrongdoing and torture considered a legitimate interrogation method.
The new legislation sought to provide restorative justice by diverting child offenders from this punitive justice system and keeping them out of prisons, which simply hardened criminality. It devised ways to work with offenders and victims to restore harmony in the community where the crime took place. Punishment would be tailored to the crime and dealt in a way that maintained the self-respect of the offender as well as the approval of both community and victim.
Our justice system requires us to punish wrongdoers, what if there were a better way?
from the entry by Mikhail Lyubansky on race-talk:
For those of us living in the United States, “doing justice” is mostly synonymous with administering punishment. We may not literally follow the Biblical edict of “an eye for an eye”, but most of us still believe that “the punishment must fit the crime”. Indeed, many of us would be hard pressed to even come up with an alternative justice system.
Yet alternatives abound in the form of restorative justice.
Restorative Justice: Where are we now and where are we going? Getting real.
With the March 3 release of One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections in the wake of our current economic woes, many of those who work in our community's trenches are relishing the bittersweet moment as we utter, “I told you so”. Thirty years of struggling to control the impacts of rapid social migration, challenges to family structures, and the media's overriding influence, our nation has supported increasingly invasive punishments or wildly permissive privileges and excuses. And it should come as no surprise that the punishments have been disproportionately visited upon our most challenged populations.
As we look at the potential inherent in restorative justice to bring people to their senses in actively responsible ways—will this be done while also taking the time to address the structural harms we've incurred through unprecedented levels of social exclusion? Social exclusions that begin at pre-school, follow up through failure to graduate from school with marketable skills, into our courts and prisons, then aggravated by the continual lack of support for re-entry strategies that bring people back into the community prepared to support themselves and others in meaningful ways. While across town in an up-scale neighborhood another person undermines their colleagues' ability to support themselves and their family but is not held to account because they can afford to get away with it. Our current investment in justice leaves many of us cynical and frustrated. We are weary of adding new layers of unfunded mandates and increasing penalties to increase our neighbor's chances of having their daily lives better protected. A recent statement at our state's General Assembly session brought waves of self-conscious laughter when one representative commented that they were not aware that there were any misdemeanors left but they were all now classified as felonies.
Community justice: Not to you or for you, but with you
by Christa Pierpont. This is a selection of an article from a special online complement to the Summer 2008 issue of ACResolution, Vol 7, Issue 4. The Association for Conflict Resolution has given permission for it to be used on RJOnline. The complete article is attached.
....The “magic” of restorative practices comes from a principled belief that when there is a breach in relationships, people can re-story their lives (often in gifted ways), given an active and supported responsibility to do so. It is clear from the research report, Restorative Justice: The Evidence, (Lawrence W. Sherman and Heather Strang, Smith Institute, 2007) that individuals can transcend large and small wrongs in a highly satisfactory way with improved long-term consequences when restorative practices are used. Our next question was: Could this opportunity be expanded from individuals to a wider sense of cultural harms?
In particular, could restorative processes begin to address underlying racial anger and fears in our region without exacerbating negative economic realities? These questions grew out of dynamics we were discovering as we explored the history of public school education in Virginia. When the RCF studied school disciplinary statistics for public schools, we found a significantly higher rate of disciplinary action for low-income and minority youth. Efforts are now being made to reduce out-of-classroom placements and to transition to more restorative disciplinary practices, but it will take decades and funding to re-build skills for individuals who have given up on the public school system.
Implementing restorative justice: A guide for schools
Recently, the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority released the guide Implementing Restorative Justice: A guide for Schools as part of a series of resources created to help with the statewide implementation of restorative justice for working with young offenders. Developed with assistance from juvenile justice practitioners and school personnel, it provides guidance for implementing policy and practice in both elementary and secondary schools. The goals of the guide include:
- Introduce to school personnel the concepts of restorative justice and restorative discipline.
- Offer new tools that can reduce the need for school exclusion and juvenile justice system involvement in school misconduct.
- Offer ways to enhance the school environment to prevent conflict and restore relationships after conflict arises.
Accreditation blueprint: Proposal to the Restorative Justice Consortium
from the Executive Summary:
In 2008, the Restorative Justice Consortium commissioned a consultancy, JPA Europe Limited, to conduct a 12 month project to define and test accreditation for restorative practice and based on the results develop a blueprint to map out the way forward in accreditation for the restorative practice sector.