Source: (2009) Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. 44(2):547-570.
This essay advances the argument that a disciplinary response rooted in restorative justice values is more appropriate for school than the conventional punitive disciplinary approach. The experiences of the students and administrators at Jena High School in teh fall of 2006 provide a vivid illustration of the failures of conventional punitive school discipline. These failures highlight the ways in which restorative justice would provide a more effective response. Part II begins with an overview of school discipline in the United States today, discussing and critiquing conventional punitive approaches. Part III focuses on Jena High School, addressing the shortcomings in the school’s response to a series of racial incidents occurring on the school’s campus and throughout the community. As a result of these conflicts, six black students, now known as the “Jena Six,” were charged with crimes including attempted murder for an assault on a white student at school. Part IV discusses the benefits of restorative justice as a more effective school discipline model. Part V reviews three case studies of school districts that have integrated restorative justice models into their disciplinary responses, and concludes with a discussion of what the restorative justice process might have looked like if it had been used at Jena High School. (excerpt)
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