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Overview

Restorative Justice (RJ) is a set of principles and practices employed in the Oakland Unified School District to build community and respond to student misconduct, with the goals of repairing harm and restoring relationships between those impacted. The RJ program in OUSD pilots a three-tiered model of prevention/ intervention/ supported reentry in response to conflict/harm. The RJ program works to lower our rate of suspension and expulsion and to foster positive school climates with the goal of eliminating racially disproportionate discipline practices and the resulting push-out of students into the prison pipeline.

Restorative Justice

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What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is a set of principles and practices employed in the Oakland Unified School District to build community and respond to student misconduct, with the goals of repairing harm and restoring relationships between those impacted. Both the theory and practice of restorative justice emphasize the importance of: 

(1) identifying the harm, 
(2) involving all stakeholders to their desired comfort level, and 
(3) true accountability—taking steps to repair the harm and address its causes to the degree possible.

Restorative justice in its basic form is incredibly intuitive and a common sense concept for most people. Restorative justice presents opportunities to those impacted by a event to collectively define the impact and determine steps to make things as right as possible for everyone involved—the person(s) harmed, the person(s) who harmed others, and the broader community that was affected both directly as well as indirectly. Because of the ways our current systems operate—often contrary to restorative principles—it is common for implementation of restorative practices to be misunderstood and face resistance.

In his seminal work, Changing LensesHoward Zehr examined the way in which we typically respond to crime and wrongdoing. Zehr contrasts questions the criminal justice system asks with restorative questions. The questions the current systems try to address are:

(1) What rules or laws were broken? 
(2) Who broke them? 
(3) What do they deserve?

Whereas, restorative justice asks:

(1) Who has been hurt? 
(2) What are their needs? 
(3) Who has the obligation to address the needs and put right the harm?

The restorative questions cannot be adequately answered without the involvement of those who have been most affected. Involving those affected is a cornerstone of restorative justice. The foundation of restorative justice rests on common values: respect, inclusion, responsibility, empathy, honesty, openness, and accountability.


 

CIRCLE PROCESS CORE GUIDELINES

Respect the Talking Piece

Speak from the Heart

Listen with your Heart

Speak with Respect

Listen with Respect

Remain in the Circle

Honor Privacy

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