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.
Spurred by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans at the hands of police, demands are increasing for money to be redirected from police budgets. No single strategy can achieve meaningful change; through experience and research, we have identified a number of sustainable community-driven solutions that can limit the role of police, while building safe and strong neighborhoods.
Seven students in our Restorative Justice in Schools Program won NPR's 2020 student podcast competition, out of thousands of entries from across the country. On the winning episode, the students—part of the Men in Color after-school program at their Brooklyn high school—discuss climate change and environmental racism. They created the episode after participating in the New York City youth climate march, where they interviewed people about how black communities intersect with climate justice.
“Climate change is racial injustice,” the students conclude.
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.
On New Thinking, the well-known journalist and commentator Emily Bazelon talks about her new book, Charged, on the "movement to transform American prosecution," and where she thinks power might be shifting in the criminal justice system. Progressive prosecutors are very much a minority among elected D.A.s, but what if they could be the model for dismantling what Bazelon calls America's "giant machine of punishment"?
Like a number of cities across the U.S., New York City is in the midst of a remarkable, often contentious, debate about the future and purpose of its jails. New Thinking host Matt Watkins recently moderated a public discussion of the city’s pledge to replace its notorious Rikers Island jail complex with a series of smaller, modern facilities—located near courthouses, not on an isolated island. It's a shift the mayor says will end the era of mass incarceration in the city.
Peacemaking is a traditional Native American approach to justice focused on healing and community restoration, rather than punishment. The Near Westside Peacemaking Project brings this practice to one of Syracuse, New York’s most distressed neighborhoods, offering community members a unique approach to addressing an array of community problems. This report describes the 24-month planning period and the first two years of program implementation, including program structure, goals, caseload, and feedback from participants.
On our New Thinking podcast, the Oakland-based architect explains her firm’s mission to use design to counter incarceration and promote the use of restorative justice. She also discusses her work on our Near Westside Peacemaking Center in Syracuse, N.Y.