Restorative Justice Panel Sponsored by CFC at Citizen U Event

Over 500 people from around the country attended the annual Citizen University held in Seattle March 18–19, 2016. Center stage this year was the question “Who is US?”, focusing on race, identity, and what it means to be American in this century. Presentations covered a wide array of topics, ranging from looking at pop culture, the effects of poverty, and the power of race. Committee for Children sponsored a panel titled “Restorative Justice Now.”

Restorative justice consists of formal or informal responses to crime and other wrongdoing after it occurs. Restorative practices, which evolved in part from restorative justice, involve proactively building relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing.

The panel was moderated by Yale law professor Tracey L. Meares and featured Keith Hickman from the International Institute for Restorative Practices; Nikkita Oliver, a Seattle-based attorney and anti-racist organizer; Mathew Burman, a re-engagement specialist at Highline Public Schools; and Ifran Abshir, a senior at Rainer Beach High School and local hero who brought Orca (bus) cards to low-income students in the greater Seattle area.

During the panel discussion, Hickman explain that the core belief in restorative justice is changing the relationships between those in authority and those who follow authority figures. When a collaborative atmosphere of discussion and honesty is created, relationships can flourish.

All panelists agreed: Restorative justice’s incorporation into schools has tremendous implications for student success and closing racial gaps in school exclusion policies. In an atmosphere of collaboration and respectful discussion, students will be more likely to engage, and retention rates will increase. Training school staff on how to interact peacefully with students and encouraging them to do it is one of the keys to successful implementation.

Watch the full panel video here.

See the alignment between restorative practices and the Second Step Suite from Committee for Children.