This article shows how restorative justice techniques can be used with students in correctional and alternative education settings. The simple principles of restorative justice are outlined and their suitability for offenders is illustrated through actual prison incidents that have been dealt with using these principles. A protocol is suggested for teachers and administrators who might consider adopting this approach.
In this paper, we propose a conceptual theory of restorative justice so that social scientists may test these theoretical concepts and their validity in explaining and predicting the effects of restorative justice practices. The foundational postulate of restorative justice is that crime harms people and relationships and that justice requires the healing of the harm as much as possible. Out of this basic premise arise key questions: who is harmed, what are their needs and how can those needs be met?
SaferSanerSchools, a program of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), was developed in response to a perceived crisis in American education and in society as a whole. Said Ted Wachtel, IIRP president, “Rising truancy and dropout rates, increasing disciplinary problems, violence and even mass murders plague American schools. The IIRP believes that the dramatic change in behavior among young people is largely the result of the loss of connectedness and community in modern society. Schools themselves have become larger, more impersonal institutions and educators feel less connected to the families whose children they teach.
Transforming school culture Piperato, D. F., & Roy, J. J. (2002, 8th-10th August). Paper presented at the "Dreaming of a New Reality," the Third International Conference on Conferencing, Circles and other Restorative Practices, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
If today’s trends continue, education in the 21st century will be characterized by increasingly fractured relationships and even more alienated students. Closed, individualized, bureaucratic cultures typical of many schools are unable to reverse these trends. Collaboration within the schoolhouse and beyond is critical to meeting the individual needs of students. Just as industry moved from mass production to mass customization, schools will need to similarly customize the educational experiences of individuals to re-engage them and to begin the restoration of relationships.
The massacre of students at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and copycat shootings in other US and Canadian schools have sent waves of alarm through school communities across the globe. While tough gun laws limit accessibility to the type of weapons used in those crimes here in Australia, school violence is increasingly a source of anxiety. There is no argument from this author that there is much to be done beyond the school gates to counter this harmful behaviour, and at the earliest point of intervention in the lives of our young people. Responding to such incidents in schools, though, is always a challenge. School responses to incidents of violence (including bullying), typically range from police involvement, suspension and/or exclusion, detention, to parent interviews, counselling and anger management programs. Community conferencing, first introduced to Queensland schools in 1994, is an extremely effective process for dealing with incidents of violence.
We need a more useful way of looking at school discipline and social discipline than the limited punitive-permissive continuum—to punish or not to punish. We need to look through a social discipline window comprised of both control and support.
Punishment in response to crime and other wrongdoing is the prevailing practice, not just in criminal justice systems but throughout most modern societies. Punishment is usually seen as the most appropriate response to crime and to wrongdoing in schools, families and workplaces. Those who fail to punish naughty children and offending youths and adults are often labelled as “permissive.” This punitive-permissive continuum reflects the current popular view, but offers a very confined perspective and limited choice—to punish or not to punish.
Restorative justice circles or conferences have shown considerable promise in the criminal justice system as a more decent and effective way of dealing with youthful law breaking than punishment. The social movement for restorative justice has a distinctive analysis of the crisis of community and the possibility of community in late modernity. This paper raises the question of whether this approach might fruitfully be applied to the holistic development of the learning potential of the young and the whole range of problems young people encounter—drug abuse, unemployment, homelessness, suicide, among others— in the transition from school to work.
Restorative justice has been subject to a number of attacks, both empirically and philosophically. This paper attempts to address some of these criticisms and suggests that they stem in part from misunderstandings about what restorative justice seeks to achieve and in part from demanding too much from restorative justice at this stage in its development. Attempts to evaluate restorative justice are also relatively recent. Critics, however, tend to either ignore the available research findings or to present them negatively. Critics also fail to contrast what restorative justice has achieved and may still achieve with what conventional criminal justice systems have achieved. Drawing from research, particularly from New Zealand, which has put restorative justice principles into practice to a greater extent than other jurisdictions, this review suggests that there are reasons to be relatively positive about the re‐emergence of restorative justice.
Paper presented at the The Role of Schools in Crime Prevention Conference convened by the Australian Institute of Criminology in conjunction with the Department of Education, Employment and Training, Victoria, and Crime Prevention Victoria and held in Melbourne, 30 September – 1 October 2002
We live in fear of our children. Any society that fears its children will not long thrive. We have allowed enormous distance to develop between ourselves and the children of others. We have not come to know them sufficiently and we have not invested emotionally, materially and spiritually in their well being. We have not taught them by example to understand the interconnectedness of all things and the need to always understand the impact of our actions on others. Violent juvenile crime - the image of monsters parading as children has been used to justify countless escalations in harsh measures after each new horror - only when it was a six year old who pulled the trigger did we stop our punitive response long enough to look at ourselves and ask, "How could this be?"