Restorative Justice is a process which focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. An offending student, rather than simply receiving detention or being suspended, must face a panel of students and teachers to talk out the issues which led to the violent act… during this process the offending student must face a “peer jury” which decides the punitive actions to be taken against the offender. These break-out sessions can run from 40 minutes to two honors. The results have been promising.
Violence has been reduced at area schools, suspension is down, graduation rates are up, and gang related crime is on the decrease as well. The students and teachers are assisted by professional conflict resolution councilors who are trained at dealing with gang members and youth with a history of violence.
Most educators know that suspension does not work… yet often it is the only recourse administration has in order to keep the student population safe from violent members of the student body. Restorative Justice may be a feasible alternative. If such a program can work in an area like Chicago which faces major gang and drug activity and huge dropout rates, it can surly be effective in little ole’ Warwick, Rhode Island.