Restorative justice focuses on repairing harm and restoring relationships.
Restorative justice offers people a chance to respond to a conflict or wrongdoing in a way that is both meaningful and just. By emphasizing the needs of those who were hurt, encouraging accountability by those who caused the harm, and including the community, restorative justice promotes healing rather than punishment.
In 2013, the Center for Court Innovation worked with mentors from tribal communities to launch its first peacemaking initiative in Red Hook, Brooklyn. This diversion program replaced jail and other court-imposed punishments with a community-based peacemaking process. Its success prompted two similar community-based programs in Syracuse and the Bronx.
Committed to continuing to test our ideas, we embarked on a federally-funded randomized controlled trial, implementing and measuring the impact of restorative practices in five high schools in Brooklyn, N.Y. The study, to be completed in 2020, will examine how to shift school culture and reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions, with a focus on key disparities related to race and disability. In a separate initiative, we are investigating how restorative justice can be integrated into the movement to end gender-based violence.
The Center is committed to sharing its lessons learned about restorative justice with communities around the world.
Building on a traditional Native American approach to justice, the Center’s peacemaking programs focus on healing and community restoration rather than punishment.
Restorative Justice in Schools
We've implemented restorative justice programs in five New York City high schools aimed at strengthening relationships school-wide.
The movement to reform prisons is almost as old as prisons themselves. But what is the ultimate goal of reform of a system like the criminal justice system? On our New Thinking podcast, Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law explain why they think many of today's most popular reforms are extending, rather than countering, the justice system's harmful effects. Their new book is Prison By Any Other Name.
Published by the New York City Mayor's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, this report outlines pathways for developing restorative and community-based approaches to intimate partner violence. It aims to expand the knowledge of restorative practices as applied to intimate partner violence and to promote the idea of increasing the options for survivors and their families.
Restorative justice is about repairing harm. But for Black Americans, what is there to be restored to? This special episode of New Thinking features a roundtable with eight members of our Restorative Justice in Schools team. They spent three years embedded in five Brooklyn high schools—all five schools are overwhelmingly Black, and all five had some of the highest suspension rates in New York City.
"We need a vision of a better society: a future grounded in love, justice, accountability, a future grounded in safety and good health," Ashish Prashar makes the argument against incarceration and includes our Red Hook Community Justice Center and Harlem Community Justice Center as examples of successful restorative justice programs.
High school student Rainier Harris, a second-year member of our Youth Justice Board, writes in The New York Times about experiencing racism at his school and the school's decision to respond with restorative justice. "Restorative justice," he writes, "inspires solutions that achieve value and respect for everyone. It’s the only way real change can be made."