Letters to the Editor

Dr. Marian Fritzemeier: Restorative justice takes kids out of school-to-prison pipeline

Re “Thoughts on creating ‘restorative justice’” (Page 1B, Aug. 5): I appreciate Kathleen Rowe-Glendon’s awareness of Restorative Justice. My interest derived from research on trying juveniles as adults. When first-time offenders choose restorative justice, they are unlikely to re-offend. Ultimately, offenders take responsibility for their crimes, make amends and change their behaviors.

Traditionally, when students misbehave, students are sent to the office. Educators do things “to” students, like detention or missing recess. But such punishment doesn’t work. Behavior worsens until students are pushed out of school and end up in jail. This is called the school-to-prison pipeline.

Restorative practices requires a paradigm shift from punishment to student responsibility, accountability and, ultimately, changing behaviors by involving both offenders and victims.

Will it work in Modesto? Thirteen Modesto City Schools (four more this fall) are embracing restorative practices. The results? Typically, schools cut their suspension rates in half the first year and then cut them in half again the next.

The use of restorative practices is disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and changing behaviors one student at a time. Staff are changing their behaviors, too. Power and control over students is shifting to working “with” students to change behaviors and restore relationships. To learn more about restorative practices in schools, visit www.fromdiaperstodiamonds.com.

Marian Fritzemeier, Modesto

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