Restorative Justice is often put forward as a credible alternative to traditional policing and the use of prisons, strategies based on a naïve knowledge of the criminal/carceral world where crimes are committed as a result of an individual choice with knowledge of the consequences and being a criminal is a way of life that pays dividends to the criminal which soothing discussions about “making things right” will generally fall on deaf ears, except as a hustle to evade traditional punishment.
However, this article from the Washington Post about using it in schools, is actually very insightful and a place and a population that could respond to it.
“As communities across the country beef up police presence in schools, Denver may become a national counterpoint Tuesday, when officials plan to sign an agreement to limit the role of law enforcement at the city’s schools — a move that could mean fewer students will face arrest or citation for disciplinary infractions.
“Denver’s effort comes in a metropolitan area that is often at the forefront of debates over school violence since the mass shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. More recently, the massacre last July at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., again pushed security concerns into the spotlight. Both of those shootings were just outside Denver.
“In places often farther from such attacks, impassioned calls have been made for doubling up on officers or creating school police forces as the nation grapples with how to respond to the Dec. 14 rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“In Denver, the approach will be decidedly different. Leaders from the city’s police department and public school system are to sign an eight-page contract that will bring detail to often-murky questions about the role of police in schools. The agreement emphasizes differences between student offenses that should be handled by educators and those that need police action, urges de-escalation of campus conflict when possible, and supports “restorative justice” practices that focus on making amends for misconduct rather than punishing for it.
“Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg said the move marks a “step forward” for the system of 84,000 students. “We believe that an effective restorative justice approach makes schools safer, helps keep our kids in school and on track to graduation, and makes kids learn from their mistakes and make them right,” he said.
“In day-to-day school life, Boasberg said, he expects less reliance on police ticketing and out-of-school suspension.
“It’s not, ‘You did something wrong, go home for five days and watch television,’ ” he said. “It’s, ‘What did you do wrong? Who did you harm? How are you going to make them whole, and what are you learning from this?’ ”