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.
Based on a national survey and five in-depth case studies, this study seeks to document how restorative approaches are being applied to intimate partner violence across the country. It concludes with a series of guiding principles and recommendations for the field.
In our study of more than 800 New York City schools, students who were suspended were more likely to incur other negative consequences, including poor academic performance, dropout, and arrest. Suspensions were also disparately applied, influenced by factors such as race, disability, and economic status. Schools with a better overall climate tended to use suspensions more sparingly, and we found positive approaches, such as restorative justice, could greatly improve outcomes for students and school climate alike.
Honoring Judge Alex Calabrese as a "fierce advocate for justice," John Jay College of Criminal Justice awarded the presiding judge of our Red Hook Community Justice Center an honorary degree alongside the class of 2019. Featured at the May commencement, this short film highlights Calabrese's transformational leadership in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and how an emphasis on healing can advance a more humane and effective justice system.
A profile of the peacemaking program at our Red Hook Community Justice Center, where storytelling moves justice "towards reconciliation and rehabilitation." Sessions led by trained facilitators bring together everyone involved in a case, offering them a chance to apologize and a chance to forgive.
We all want safe neighborhoods, argues our Greg Berman in this op-ed, but the way we treat many people arrested for low-level offenses does more harm than good. Berman offers New York City as a potential model for other jurisdictions looking to reform low-level justice.