Back to RJ Archive

Keeping kids in School: Restorative Justice, punitive discipline, and the school to prison pipeline

Gonzalez, Thalia
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Journal of Law and Education

[…] this research on suspensions indicated that despite frequent use, such exclusionary discipline practices are not effective in reducing problematic behaviors.n349 Out-ofschool suspensions were reduced by 13% from the 2008-2009 school year, and by 34% since the program began four years ago.350 Expulsions from school were reduced by 85% from the 2008-2009 school year, and by 82% since the project began.351 Referrals to law enforcement were down by 70% compared with last year and 72% since the program began.352 Since its development and implementation, over 830 formal restorative interventions have been conducted at North High School. 353 This data does not account for all of the informal restorative processes that have emerged within the North High School community.354 For example, one North High School security guard estimated that he and the Dean conducted 100 informal conferences in the fall of 2009.355 To a large degree, the impact of the North High School Restorative Justice Program cannot be captured by quantitative data alone.356 As discussed in Part HI, school-based restorative justice implementation and development requires an institutional and individual shift from retributive and exclusionary practice to restorative and inclusionary practice. While quantitative data can exhibit downward trends in suspension and expulsions, as a result of restorative practice, there is not a quantitative measure for the development of positive relationships between students, teachers, and administrators. […] as school-based restorative justice programs grow, school communities become increasingly self -reflective and engaged.357 In terms of school- wide disciplinary outcomes, findings from the North High School Restorative Justice Program are valuable in confirming that when schools adopt alternative processes to address discipline they can build a safer school culture, reduce entry into die schoolto-prison pipeline, and positively impact educational performance.


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now