New York Times Article Showcases Restorative Justice Program Coordinator Eric Butler
In Oakland, schools have employed restorative justice practices as an alternative to ‘”zero-tolerance” policies. Eric Butler is a coordinator of restorative justice for Ralph J. Brunche High School. We highlighted Mr. Butler and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) in our Fix School Discipline Toolkit
The restorative justice program at Ralph J. Brunche promotes strong relationships among students, teachers and administrators, as well as encourages students to “come up with meaningful reparations for their wrongdoing while challenging them to develop empathy for one another through talking circles.” This approach fosters cooperation and mutual respect.
Oakland began using restorative justice practices six years ago and has since expanded the program to 21 schools. During that time the school district faced an investigation into high suspension and expulsion rates for primarily African-American boys. Most disciplinary actions were for “defiance,” a loose term for nonviolent infractions. It has since lowered those rates.
Since zero-tolerance policies often result in early involvement with the juvenile justice system, restorative justice practices seek to provide alternatives for the school-to-prison-pipeline.
One student, commenting on how restorative justice has offered him a different perspective says, “I didn’t know how to express my emotions with my mouth. I knew how to hit people. I feel I can go to someone now.”
Restorative justice approaches vary by district, city and state, but there is an increasing push to provide alternatives for our students and work against the school-to-prison-pipeline. Read More…