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Recent News, Articles & Videos

Teacher from Costa Rica passionate about restorative practices

Posted by on Aug 1, 2013 in Schools

When the teachers at Country Day School, an American private school in Costa Rica, were trained in restorative practices several years ago, Veronika Marenco, a third grade teacher at the time, knew she had found something really useful. She started the school year with circles for her students to get to know one another, and followed it up every day with daily circles to check in and check out, play games, review math concepts and also address problems between students. A few weeks in, when parents were invited to “Back to School Night,” Veronika even arranged the classroom in a circle of chairs and let parents (and a few children who came along) experience a circle to introduce themselves to one another. The parents liked the...

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Video: Teachers Unite advocates restorative justice

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in Schools

Here’s a five-minute “teaser” for a forthcoming documentary from Teachers Unite titled Growing Fairness. The first part of the trailer offers a critique of the so-called school-to-prison pipeline and zero tolerance policies. One quote that stuck out for me was researcher and organizer Natalie Havlin saying: “What’s really exciting about this moment is that nationally – in Louisiana, in Colorado, in New York City, in  Los Angeles, in San Francisco, in Chicago, in Detroit – local school communities and young people, parents, educators and administrators are coming together to say that zero tolerance doesn’t work and experimenting with these alternative practices to address interpersonal harm and building justice for...

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Book Review: Restorative justice today: Practical applications

Posted by on Jul 30, 2013 in Justice

Eric Assur at Restorative Justice Online has just posted a book review on Restorative Justice Today: Practical Applications, edited by Katherine S. van Wormer and Lorenn Walker. As I mentioned last fall, this book includes a chapter co-written by IIRP President Ted Wachtel and another written by IIRP Assistant Director for Communications Laura Mirsky. Over the past thirty years the number of books or publications on Restorative Justice (R.J.) has increased annually. In 2013 justice practitioners, students and conflict resolution (or conflict prevention) readers may proclaim this publication as their book of the year. The authors, both with interesting backgrounds and academic credentials have provided a ‘practical’ look at the current...

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Creative practice: Restorative justice through art

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013 in Justice

The following is the beginning of a piece by Rachel Barnard posted July 17 in Urban Omnibus titled “Young New Yorkers: Restorative Justice Through Public Art.” The wide-angle lens captures the flickering of a fan overhead and the outstretched leg of a small child sitting just out of frame. It is summer in New York and Isaiah’s grandmother is sitting on a quilted day bed that has been pushed up against a wooden partition and partially obstructs the entrance to her kitchen. Her left leg is neatly curled under her right; her left arm props herself up on the bed’s surface. Her head, framed by long braids, leans intently forward. She speaks directly into the camera her grandson is holding: I was sad because it’s not like you...

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Video: Family Group Decision Making: A mother’s perspective

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Families, Video

This beautifully animated short film walks through a Family Group Decision Making conference (FGDM, also known as a Family Group Conference) from the point of view of a mother at risk of losing her children. Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir) is the Norwegian governmental office for the welfare and protection of children and families. This video is also available in Norwegian and Russian. Watch a similar video about family group conferences from a child’s perspective. Find information about IIRP’s Family Power...

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“Dreaming of a New Reality”: Chapter 1

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Article, Featured

This article is an excerpt from IIRP president and founder Ted Wachtel’s new book, Dreaming of a New Reality: How restorative practices reduce crime and violence, improve relationships and strengthen civil society, published by the International Institute for Restorative Practices, in association with the Piper’s Press. Through stories and statistics, the book demonstrates the promise of restorative practices to heal victims, prevent bullying, curb conflict, reduce school disciplinary problems and boost workplace satisfaction and productivity. It also outlines the history and development of this growing social movement, as well as a vision for its future.

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In US Republicans rethinking focus on prisons

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Justice

A few months ago I posted a piece about a report issued in the UK by Pat Nolan, director of Justice Fellowship, the criminal justice reform arm of Prison Fellowship International, about a shift in conservative thinking on crime in the US and a possible alliance between the right and the left on including restorative justice as a way to shift the current emphasis on prisons. Since the article was published in the UK and not here in the US, I put a question mark at the end of my post, which I titled “A shift in conservative American thinking on justice?” But now a piece has appeared in the Wall Street Journal – indeed on the front page of the June 21, 2013 issue – titled “As Prisons Squeeze Budgets, GOP Rethinks Crime...

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NYC Comptroller’s office recommends restorative practices in schools

Posted by on Jul 18, 2013 in Schools

On Tuesday, July 16, the New York City Comptroller’s Office issued a report called “The Suspension Spike: Changing the Discipline Culture in NYC’s Middle Schools,” which “offers a blueprint for replacing the DOE’s failed zero-tolerance policy with restorative justice practices that help middle-school students stay in school and remain on the path to college and career readiness.” According to a press release from the Comptroller’s Office, “The report found that New York City middle schools suspended an average of 100 students a school day in the 2011-2012 school year. Almost all of those suspended were either black or Hispanic. It also found that middle-school students received 68 percent more suspensions...

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Video: Carr Manor Restorative Practices

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in Schools

This 9-minute video from Leeds City Learning Centres in the UK gives a good overview of restorative practices use in the Carr Manor Community School. Many students, along with teachers and administrators, explain in their own words what restorative practices are, how they are used and what impact they have on the school environment. Watch Carr Manor Restorative Practice on Vimeo. Watch another film about Leeds’ use of the “Family Learning...

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Restorative Justice for Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, their families & community

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Justice

Considering the national focus on the George Zimmerman murder trial, particularly over the past month during the trial and its conclusion with a “not guilty” verdict Saturday, this piece, “Restorative Justice for Trayvon Martin,” seems particularly relevant. Written by Dr. Mikhail Lyubansky, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and originally published in the Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 2013, a “Special Issue on Violence against Individuals and Communities: Reflecting on the Trayvon Martin Case,” this piece reflects on a variety of issues, including racism, the justice system, and the needs of communities for...

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