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Restorative Justice and Minorities

The over-representation of minorities in the criminal justice system is a well-known and apparently intractable problem. It reflects larger societal problems in dealing with race and class. How does restorative justice contribute to the problem or to a solution? These articles consider this critical issue.

Oregon’s 'Forever Crimes' law hurts Black families
from the article by Helen Silvis in the Skanner News: A law that was designed to keep students safe is having the opposite effect on some students—especially youth of color. Oregon Statute 342.143 lists 69 crimes that disqualify you from working in an Oregon school. Anyone who has committed one of these “Forever Crimes” is barred from working with students forever. No matter how long ago the crime was committed, or how much good the person has done since, “Forever Crimes” never go away. What’s more, Oregon school districts have extended the law to apply to volunteers. That means if you were convicted of selling drugs within 1000 feet of a school or sexting a picture of your girlfriend when you were a teenager, you can forget about volunteering in your daughter’s classroom or going on a field trip with your grandson....
Philly to host first-ever ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ youth hackathon next week
from the article by Juliana Reyes in Technical.ly Philly: Minority youth will become civic hackers at the first “My Brother’s Keeper” hackathon next week. It’s a response to President Obama’s call to action for organizations to help black boys succeed. Though the hackathon is geared toward boys, girls are also welcome. Participants will build apps around “education, wellness, restorative justice, food, sustainability and masculinity,” according to a release.
Justice in Ferguson, Missouri: Can restorative justice apply here?
from Lisa Rea's blog entry at Restorative Justice International: I have worked in the area of civil rights in the past. I include my restorative justice work in the last 20 years as being part of that civil rights work. But in the 1980s I also served on a local civil rights coalition in the Sacramento area in California where our focus was to respond to acts of racial hatred in the region. This included acts of racial violence and intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-nazi party.
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.
Can restorative justice help balance the scales for African-American youth?
from the article by Rebecca M. Stone in the Miami Herald: 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.
Jirga and restorative justice
How we do justice in jirga,circle is very similar to that.see the article published on the subject link and for further reading,visit our web,www.justpeaceint.org. Insight [...]
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.
Restorative Justice: Where are we now and where are we going? Getting real.
from Christa Pierpont's article reprinted with permission from Restorative and Criminal Justice News and the Association for Conflict Resolution, www.ACRnet.org: 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. 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?
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.
Is there a role for restorative justice in addressing public education issues in Mississippi?
from the syllabus: This is in an interdisciplinary seminar, which will be conducted over the course of two semesters, and open to undergraduate honors students, law and graduate students. After a brief introduction into the concept of restorative justice, the first semester will be devoted to the study of existing data and research into other sources in order to gain a full understanding of the history of public education in Mississippi, with emphasis on how the issue of race has informed educational policy and the status of education in Mississippi today. The second semester will consider potential remedies from a perspective of restorative justice.
Harvard scholar versus Cambridge police
President Obama introduceg the idea of victim-offender dialogue. He brought the two sides to the table to talk. This is extremely important. Thank you for [...]
Great perspective
Thanks for the insight Lisa. I agree that Obama's initiative had great practical value and points to restorative values. I like the symbolism of these [...]
Race and Gender both count
hi folks.. Lisa, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I was traveling in Australia when this happened and had an interesting conversation with a friend of [...]
Restorative justice/racial profiling/racism
Hello, Henry. Great to see your comments. I think you pointed out a number of important points here. I liked your first point in particular [...]
meeting at the White House
Thanks, Janine for your comments & the link to your site and your blog. I will read it carefully. I agree with you that the [...]
restorative justice/racial profiling
Hello, Avo. Great to hear from you. Do you have issues related to the targeting of certain types of individuals due to their racial, ethnic/or [...]
Restorative Beer
Yes, there was no doubt in my mind when I heard Obama offer the "biergarten conversation" that he was using the "teachable moment" as he [...]
Arresting Racism in the USA
Yes, Lisa, the case was touched in estonian newspapers too. They had more attention on topic what bier was on the table in White House, [...]

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