I think about what would have happened back in Florida. Probably some of the more disrespectful students would have been singled out for detention. They would have sat in silence after school for the same amount of time that we sat as a classroom circle with Gabriella. But the whole group would have missed out on this valuable experience and a rare chance to develop empathy…
NC4RJ recently organized a Poetry Slam with the outstanding help of our youth interns.
…At one point, the younger woman said “You don't know my situation, you don't know where i’m coming from.” I asked her to explain. She slowly untied the scarf and revealed a rather nasty bite mark on the lower part of her face from the fight…
New Zealand has been a leader in reforming their criminal justice systems. Recently the National Juvenile Justice Network released an academic article taking a deep look at these efforts and providing useful guidance for the U.S. (and other countries in need of this reform). You can read their full report here!
I had never visited a prison before. As we approached Monroe Correctional Complex, I was surprised to see a beautiful brick building, with windows full of potted plants and artwork. That is not what I had expected. As it turned out, this was the administrative building. Directly behind that the inmate-facility came into our view. A series of drab grey-beige buildings floating in a sea of asphalt, bordered by high walls and layers of barbed wire fencing. This is exactly what I had expected. ...
Restorative Justice for cyberbullying - A personal reflection from a NC4RJ course participant
By Sara Mounsey
Our third restorative conference this year was precipitated by a cyberbullying event. It came to our attention when an administrator from a neighboring district reported that one of his students had revealed a disturbing interaction she’d had online with one of our students....
The National Center for Restorative Justice has been working closely with West Seattle H.S. this year to help develop and implement a robust system of restorative justice and practices. Mia Stroutsos and Michael Grant are the key leaders of this initiative, and I recently asked them about this important work.
...Not entirely sure why, as I had not planned to do this, I decided to add something else to this mediation. Something that would push us further into vulnerability and empathy, two aspects of restorative justice that can often be overlooked...
As usual, I jotted the reminders down on a yellow legal pad, then went to grab my coat from the closet. That's when I heard shouting from the hallway. After years working in New York City as a dean, I could immediately tell this was not the typical rowdiness at dismissal time, but a severe confrontation about to erupt
When Emilio* first walked into our offices, he looked disheveled. He shuffled through the door wearing sagging pants and an oversized t-shirt. He was standoffish, barely answering basic questions, not making eye contact, and I immediately caught the smell of weed as he placed his jacket down on a chair next to mine...
As the host yelled “Go!,” and the students began furiously devouring the slices of wet, pink watermelon, something immediately felt off. As I watched one of our darkest skinned students, up on stage, in front of a hooting and hollering crowd, digging into the watermelon, my eyes flitted quickly and uncomfortably around the auditorium. I locked eyes with a fellow staff member and I could tell that she was in disbelief...
One day, a group of people who had graduated from the leadership workshop, came to my office. They were complaining about the affordable housing units in which they were living. This housing was created to give people affordable housing people living in the quickly gentrifying neighborhood of lower Park Slope. Across the street from building were some housing projects with visible criminal activities occurring daily. On the other side of the building was a large avenue, with a steady presence of sex workers, which also brought in a lot of drugs and violence and so on. So, between the projects and the sex work, my people were somewhat fearful that they might get caught up in a police sweep or in a shooting. They came to my office wanting to do something about this. But they were very clear that they didn’t want to call the cops and simply have them do a sweep and arrest everybody. A lot of my new leaders felt victimized by this type of prosecution in the past and they didn’t want to put others through the same injustice. They wanted to do something different.
When I heard the commotion, I grabbed my black radio and hurried quickly out of the Restorative Justice office just in time to see Javier (not his real name), a Junior student, punch in the plexiglass window on a hallway display case. The principal of our high school was standing nearby and several students and teachers had popped their heads out of doorways to see what was happening. Other support staff and I quickly walked Javier into our office to cool down and began talking with him and interviewing others to piece together exactly what had happened.
The first lightbulb moment for me was when I got to attend a restorative justice training, at G--------- H.S. in Seattle, for high school students. Being surrounded by so many other young learners who shared an interest in this work was incredibly validating. It showed me that I wasn’t the only one who felt that things had to change in our schools, and the energy of the other teenagers in the room was electrifying.
I invite everyone to attend the Northwest Justice Forum, it is the premier Restorative Justice conference in the Northwest. This year we have the pleasure of Erin Jones conducting the pre-conference training. Erin Jones is a leader of all things equity across Washington State. I never attend pre-conference trainings, but I will be there for sure! Hope to see you there!
NEW YORK — He knew instantly he’d made a mistake. At the last minute, he tried to protect the woman, but that only angered her assailant, who hit her harder, knocking her to the ground.
That assailant was someone Daryl Mensah-Bonsu, then 15, had considered a friend, a more popular teen who invited him along to visit some girls in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. He says he had never been in trouble before and was pressured into stealing the woman’s pocketbook along the way.
In New York, kids are fighting to stay alive; in Seattle kids are contemplating suicide.
This is one way to describe the vast differences in the student populations I have spent my career working with. As a high school teacher for the past eight years, and facilitator of restorative justice (RJ) for the past three, it has been my honor to help guide and coach students through the extremely tough years of high school and adolescence.
Hey, you! Yes, YOU can make it happen! Anyone can. Whether you are a principal, a student, counselor or teacher, you can be the one to speak up for restorative justice. “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi). Though I currently work full time ass a restorative justice facilitator, it wasn't always this way. At my last school it was a student, a junior, who decided our school needed this approach. He found backing from our principal, and he found a mentor in me, his advisor/teacher.
There were 10 of us in a large room, sitting in a ring of comfortable chairs encircling a large table. Late afternoon sunlight caught the red hair and freckles of a 15-year-old student (we’ll call her Sarah) as she tilted her head back slightly to keep tears from escaping.
Her parents, our school principal, several students and her boyfriend surrounded me, a teacher, as I began to share how I was affected by Sarah’s actions over the weekend.
There were 10 of us in a large room, sitting in a ring of comfortable chairs encircling a large table. Late afternoon sunlight caught the red hair and freckles of a 15-year-old student (we’ll call her Sarah) as she tilted her head back slightly to keep tears from escaping...
I often get the question "what are circles?"
This is a valid question. In our modern culture circle processes have be relegated to rather unique settings. You can find circle practices across the globe in all cultures and communities. They often look different but use some of the same concepts. First I want to tell you what make a circle a Circles, then we can discuss how Circles connect to the philosophy of Restorative Justice.
"Accountability" as a term to describe restorative justice. The idea/definition of accountability is counter to how we think/talk about justice.
Accountability: required to explain actions or decisions to someone.