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North America and Caribbean

Provides articles discussing restorative justice advancements in North America and the Caribbean. Articles appear in the order in which they were added to the site with the most recent appearing first.

TEA grant to School of Social Work Will take innovative discipline program statewide
from the University of Texas press release: School and district administrators across Texas will be offered training in Restorative Discipline, an alternative to “zero tolerance” methods, through a grant from the Texas Education Agency to the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue (IRJRD) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work. Restorative Discipline is a prevention-oriented approach that fosters accountability and amends-making to resolve school conflict such as bullying, truancy and disruptive behavior. The $521,000 grant will be used to conduct training sessions in Restorative Discipline in 10 Education Service Centers, which provide support to school districts and charter schools throughout the state....
CNCR Debuts Database of U.S. Restorative Justice Legislation
from the news release from Georgia State University: The Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (CNCR) at Georgia State University College of Law has introduced a downloadable database detailing state-by-state use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system. “The new database will help those looking to draft new legislation or start new programs,” said Carolyn Lambert, CNCR’s project director. “The project is a real group effort. There is no database this comprehensive to date.”...
Suspensions, expulsions fall
from the article by Pat Maio in U-T San Diego: Suspensions and expulsions fell dramatically at public schools in San Diego County in 2013-14 as educators embraced alternative ways to keep kids in school ahead of a new state law aimed at softening how disruptive students are disciplined. The decline in students getting kicked out of school was echoed throughout the state, according to data recently released by the California Department of Education....
‘Peace hubs’ aim to save kids from crime stigma
from the article by Rod Watson in Buffalo News: VOICE-Buffalo’s effort to create “peace hubs” in churches, mosques, synagogues and other neighborhood anchors could resolve low-level conflicts before they ever reach police. It’s part of a “restorative justice” effort to turn around wayward youth before they get ensnared in a criminal-justice system staffed by many who don’t understand the neighborhoods they patrol or the young people they prosecute. It’s not an effort to coddle criminals; it’s an effort to save kids.
DSW adopts new approach to loss prevention
from the article by Christine Kern in Integrated Solutions for Retailers: DSW, Inc. has announced that it has signed an agreement with the Corrective Education Company (CEC), to incorporate the CEC Restorative Justice Education solution into its Loss Prevention program. DSW Inc., headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, operates 431 stores in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. DSW also supplies footwear to 370 leased locations in the United States under the Affiliated Business Group.
Dalhousie restorative justice response to Facebook comments questioned
from the article by Marieke Walsh in Global News: Dalhousie University’s decision to use a restorative justice process in dealing with offensive Facebook comments have some people concerned that there won’t be real consequences for the perpetrators. The university says some of the female victims chose the informal approach which is one of two options under the school’s sexual harassment policy. The decision means that the victims, perpetrators, and the university will work together to look at the harm done by the sexually violent and abusive comments and what the appropriate consequences should be.
An alternative to suspension and expulsion: 'Circle up!'
from the story by Eric Westervelt on NPR: Oakland Unified, one of California's largest districts, has been a national leader in expanding restorative justice. The district is one-third African-American and more than 70 percent low-income. The program was expanded after a federal civil rights agreement in 2012 to reduce school discipline inequity for African-American students. At Edna Brewer Middle School, the fact that students are taking the lead — that so many want to be part of this effort — shows that it's starting to take root. "Instead of throwing a punch, they're asking for a circle, they're backing off and asking to mediate it peacefully with words," says Ta-Biti Gibson, the school's restorative justice co-director. "And that's a great thing."
How to settle the Pacetti affair — without politics
from the article by Steve Sullivan in iPolitics: The problem of Massimo Pacetti seems to be one with no obvious solution. The Montreal MP was kicked out of the Liberal caucus by Justin Trudeau after an NDP MP came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. His accuser — like a lot of women in similar circumstances — has rejected going the justice system route. Parliament has no process in place to deal with such cases.... Mr. Pacetti’s accuser has said that she doesn’t want “vengeance … It is only a desire to be heard, a desire to have an apology, a desire, in the end, to heal.”
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....
Conflicts and in-school suspensions drop sharply at Middle School during second year of “restorative discipline” initiative
from the article on the University of Texas website: Truancy, bullying and other conflicts among students are down, and in-school suspensions have declined 75 percent at a San Antonio middle school two years after University of Texas at Austin researchers helped implement “restorative discipline” as an alternative to “zero tolerance” in dealing with these issues, according to second-year findings involving a three-year initiative. The marked improvement at Ed White Middle School in San Antonio’s North East Independent School District also was reflected by its being ranked in the top 25 percent statewide for improved progress this year, said Marilyn Armour, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work and director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue. She said the middle school made substantial gains in student school performance as measured by the number of students who passed the state exam’s math and reading components....
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.
Laurier students put city focus on restorative justice
from the article by Mike Peeling in Brant News: The week of Nov. 16 to Nov. 23 has been proclaimed Restorative Justice Week thanks to 152 Laurier Brantford students. Wilfrid Laurier University lecturer Thomas Rose teaches a class which inspired the students' efforts. Two weeks into the school term, Rose put the idea to the second-year class that they could campaign the City of Brantford to recognize the need for a new approach to the justice system.,,,
Peace room trumps suspensions at Lincoln Park High School
from the article by Paul Biasco on DNAinfo Chicago: During his seven years as assistant principal at Kenwood Academy, Michael Boraz learned to believe that punitive justice was the way to a disciplined and well-oiled school. The idea of a "peace circle" to handle problems rather than a five-day suspension or even a transfer was almost laughable to him.
Merced County high schools see the benefits of restorative justice discipline model
from the article by Ana B. Ibarra in the Merced Sun Star: High school officials in Merced County are taking a new approach at improving discipline policies on campuses, and that approach is showing a significant improvement in student participation and wellness, according to a new report. Restorative justice policies, which focus on non-adversarial and dialogue-based decisionmaking, are proving to be more effective than zero-tolerance practices, school officials said during a presentation last week.
Two youth facilities raise funds for remembrance of murder victims
from the article by Joe Orlando in Inside CDCR News: Sept. 25 was a national day of remembrance of murder victims. At the State Capitol, youth from the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (NACYCF) and the O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility (OHCYCF) donated their time and money to put on the event. The two youth correctional facilities raised more than $1,000. Misty Foster, President of the Sacramento Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, said the donated funds made the event possible.
Restoring justice: Sonoma County and beyond
from the article by John Beck in Sonomoa County Gazette: Last summer, when the Santa Rosa City Schools District was looking for a way to curb the fourth highest rate of suspensions in the state, it turned to restorative justice as the solution. “We were almost an outlier,” said Jen Klose, Santa City Schools board member. “We had truly become zero tolerance.” Searching for a new paradigm for discipline, Santa Rosa City Schools board president Bill Carle said, “We started focusing on how do we do this in a different way, and that’s when we found restorative justice.”
Editor’s comment: Restorative justice
from the opinion piece by David Shrimpton in Talking Retail: The hub for grocery retail: The issue of ‘restorative justice’ debated at this month’s ACS Crime Seminar was an extremely interesting one. On the one hand, experts were extolling the benefits of the approach, claiming it can reduce reoffending rates by more than 25%. On the other, retailers were sceptical – as their experience of restorative justice seems to have been of police officers issuing summary remedies in an effort to wrap up the case as quickly as possible.
Restorative Justice offers an alternative to traditional criminal process
from the article by Danny Bishop on Collegian Central: Everyone makes mistakes, and the City of Fort Collins and Colorado State University have Restorative Justice programs which allow legal mistakes to be handled through conferencing instead of through the courts. Perrie McMillin, program coordinator for Restorative Justice in Fort Collins, said the program allows individuals to take part in a mediated conversation between the person who caused the harm and those who were affected. The conversation addresses the harm that was caused and how to remedy it.
Oklahoma teen acts to right his father's wrong
from the report by Steve Hartman on CBS News: Seventy-eight-year-old Tona Herndon of Bethany, Okla., was vulnerable in every way. Her husband of 60 years had died just two weeks earlier.... She was mugged as she visited her husband's grave. The mugger got away with her purse and $700, but not for long. Police caught him, and the news put his mug shot on TV.
Restorative discipline should be common practice to lower the dropout rate for both students and teachers
from the blog entry by Marilyn Armour in Know: ....Lacking specific training and skills in managing behavior issues, many teachers believe that youths, like themselves, should have the innate skills to manage their own conduct. Unfortunately, frequently used punitive measures send students spiraling toward suspensions, involvement in the juvenile justice system, and diminished motivation to engage in or finish school. Not surprising, student discipline correlates with dropout rates, and that’s particularly troubling in Texas where 25 percent of students fail to graduate.

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