One relevant outcome of a restorative shift in disciplinary policy for Schools is the production of a new disciplinary code that takes seriously the ineffectiveness of zero-tolerance policies (Sumner, Silverman, Frampton 4), that reflects the growing body of data linking restorative practice to decreased recidivism (McGarrell 9) and greater esteem for the social environment (Hurst pp.2-4, 7), and that takes seriously the concerns and insights of stakeholders in the Elkhart community. On the basis of existing pilot programs executed at sites demographically, economically, and culturally similar to Elkhart (Kiddle and Alfred pp.17-19) (Hurst 1), we anticipate that a new, restorative disciplinary code will result in a marked decrease in suspensions, in-school offenses (Hurst 7), and referrals to the criminal justice system (Sumner, Silverman, Frampton 31) ; as well in a marked increase in community pride, active and constructive participation in the disciplinary process (Hurst 6) (Sumner, Silverman, Frampton 20), and an increased racial parity in disciplinary actions. In wider social context, the aforementioned outcomes disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
Center for Community Justice (CCJ) is uniquely positioned to facilitate these changes. We are the oldest Victim-Offender Reconciliation practice in the U.S., and we have been working in Elkhart since 1984. Our agency and its affiliates have deep connections in the Elkhart community, and these connections cross lines of race, gender, class, and religious lines, both inside and outside of the educational, legal, and criminal justice systems. For decades, CCJ has trained people to apply the principles of restorative justice, and CCJ is well prepared to train new leaders in restorative practice. We staff experts in reentry and transitional coaching, circle process; victim-offender, truancy, and family mediations. CCJ also has a history of working with suspended youth through our School Suspension Program and Juvenile Reparation Program. Specific restorative practices will be decided upon collaboratively by school stakeholders in consultation with CCJ during Year 1 planning sessions, but the breadth and diversity of CCJ’s resources guarantee a diverse set of opportunities of restorative practice at the school systems. Informed by the previously cited academic research and cognizant of the macro-level narrative of the school-to-prison pipeline, CCJ contributes invaluable micro-level, how-to knowledge of the mechanics of restorative practice in Elkhart’s local context.
**Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Awarded to Elkhart County to Increase use of Restorative Justice in September 2015**
Elkhart County Court Services, in partnership with the Center for Community Justice, local police departments, and schools throughout Elkhart County, is excited to announce the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute has awarded a Juvenile Accountability Block Grant to Elkhart County. This award makes it possible for the Center for Community Justice to provide training in restorative justice practices to school staff and resource officers throughout Elkhart County. This will provide school personnel and resource officers another evidence based tool to effectively address misbehavior in school, reduce suspensions and expulsions, decrease referrals to the juvenile justice system and improve the school environment to facilitate the learning process for all students.
Article in Goshen News: CCJ Training Officers and School Administration