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Roundup: 2013 Week of Action Against School Pushout

Posted by on Oct 14, 2013 in Schools

Dignity in Schools, a national organizations that unites parents, youth, advocates and educators to support alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment and removal in schools, reports on its National Week of Action Against School Pushout: “The Fourth Annual National Week of Action took place from September 28 to October 5, 2013. Over 60 organizations in 22 states joined the Dignity in Schools Campaign to ‘Push Back Against School Pushout’ in our largest Week of Action to date. Students, parents, teachers and advocates lifted their voices to demand an end to school disciplinary policies that push students out of school and down a pipeline to prison and low-wage jobs. “During this year’s Week of Action,...

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Supporting families facing eviction with family group conferencing in the Netherlands

Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Families

Eigen Kracht (Dutch for “Our Power”) is a non-profit organization that has done an incredible amount of grassroots work throughout the Netherlands to make the family group conference (FGC, which in North America is known as Family Group Decision Making or FGDM) the go-to process for empowering people and their communities of care to find solutions to some of their most pressing problems. Eigenkracht has trained community volunteers throughout the country to interface with social services and other government agencies, to coordinate with families, and come up with plans, particularly with regards to caring for children at risk of placement in the social welfare system. But Eigenkracht has always argued that FGC may be used more widely,...

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Guest blog: Robert Koehler: Hope flows from hollow water

Posted by on Oct 9, 2013 in Community

In this piece, journalist Robert Koehler unearths one of the roots of the restorative justice movement in the work of an indigenous community in Manitoba that reached “deep into their souls and into the roots of a lost way of life, to save their children and the future.” Sincere thanks to Koehler for allowing us to repost this piece in full. The community was out of control — the children, oh my God, the children, were sniffing gasoline and pretty much abandoning any pretense of a future — and the social and criminal-justice systems were just adding to the problem. Nothing was working. “Our children slammed us against a brick wall,” Burma Bushie said. This is the story of a culture in shambles. It was the early ’80s. Bushie’s...

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Audio: Sycamore Tree Projects presents outcome of 8-week prisons project

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in Justice

The Sycamore Tree Project, a world-wide program of Prison Fellowship International brings groups of crime victims into prison to meet with groups of unrelated offenders. They talk about the effects of crime, the harms it causes, and how to make things right. In a recent project in Queensland, Australia, victims of crime met for eight weeks in a program aimed to help both victims and offenders explore the impacts of crime, with the goal of fostering healing and change. Reporters Terri Begley and Emma Sykes write: It took Melissa Hutton 14 years to write a letter to the man that pointed a gun to her head during an armed hold up at the bank she worked at. After years of dealing with feelings of anger and isolation caused by those moments...

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Growing Fairness, a film and a social movement

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Schools

Bryce Stucki, a reporter at The American Prospect, takes a look at Growing Fairness, a new documentary by Teachers Unite that critiques punitive school discipline policies and suggests they be replaced by restorative practices. He writes: “Education was where my heart was,” says Tyrone Sinclair in Growing Fairness, a documentary showcasing the impact restorative-justice programs can have in our nation’s schools. Sinclair says he was expelled from school at 16, became homeless, and then ended up in jail. Now, he organizes young people in Los Angeles. “I knew that wasn’t the place for me,” he says of prison. “I love to learn every day.” Growing Fairness was screened at the Thurgood Marshall Center in Washington, D.C., this Wednesday,...

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Registration open for the IIRP’s spring 2014 term

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in IIRP Graduate School

Registration is now open for IIRP’s spring 2014 term. There are a growing number of “doorway” courses to begin study toward a graduate certificate or degree. A new fully online class, RP 506 Restorative Practices: The Promise and the Challenge, requires no prerequisite events or courses. Students will explore a wide range of applications for restorative justice and other restorative practices in this interactive online course. RP 532 Aggression Replacement Training (ART®): Behavioral Interventions that Work is a hybrid course designed to give students practical strategies for intervention with at-risk youth. The course will explore evidenced-based practices such as Aggression Replacement Training® (ART®) and Life Space...

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Fairfax, Virginia, developing restorative practices in schools, juvenile justice & policing

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Justice, Schools

Poised between the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and Washington D.C., Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), is a progressive and diverse school system on the edge of change. FCPS has initiated a system wide implementation of restorative justice processes in our schools which aims to transform how the FCPS community handles harm and wrongdoing. Several schools in this 200+ school system, the 11th largest in the country, have been exploring the use of restorative justice since 2004 to respond to discipline issues through pilot programs at two large high schools and various trainings for staff. In 2011, Vickie Shoap, a veteran RJ facilitator in Virginia’s criminal justice system, was hired to develop and manage a system-wide RJ...

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Video: How parents can use restorative questions

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Families, Video

This video was produced in Australia and posted by Vic and Elizabeth O’Callaghan, who work with Terry O’Connell of Real Justice Australia. It is aimed to show parents some of the potential of restorative questions for use at home with their own children. The 3-minute video includes an interview with a parent and observations of children themselves. Watch “RP Parent Video” at YouTube. Read “The Mackillop Model of Restorative Practice” by Elizabeth O’Callaghan, a paper presented at IIRP’s Sixth International Conference, in IIRP’s eForum...

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Alternative justice pilot program rolled out in Seattle, Washington

Posted by on Sep 30, 2013 in Justice

Bryan Cohen, writing at Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, reports on a new program to be piloted shortly in Seattle, Washington, to keep low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system. Andrea Brenneke, who was involved in organizing a restorative circle for a high profile case involving the murder of a Native American carver by a Seattle policemen, will serve as director of the City of Seattle’s new Restorative Justice Initiative. Cohen quotes Stephanie Tschida, president of the East Precinct Advisory Council, who said: “It’s a good idea for some of these residents who deal with a log of ongoing drug dealing and loitering. It could be more constructive avenue to people voicing similar concerns over and over again.” Cohen also...

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A restorative circle team builder around the IIRP World Conference

Posted by on Sep 30, 2013 in Leadership

The IIRP teaches others to implement restorative practices, but we also, through a process of continual reflection, strive within our own organizational structure to operate restoratively on a number of levels. I work in the Advancement, Communications and Technology department. Here we conduct our weekly check-in meetings using a series of circle questions, even as some of us, like me, phone in our participation in the circle by conference call. I also have regular monthly “supervision” meetings (again by phone) with my supervisor, Laura Mirsky, assistant director for communications. These meetings are an opportunity for me to reflect on my work, discuss challenges and get suggestions from Laura. In terms of the “social discipline...

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