Scott Gray from Sudbury Valley here.
Why support social pressure in judicial matters, but not in
I'm not sure that I agree with one of your presumptions --
that the purpose of a sentence is always to teach something.
In my experience, people who are ignorant of a rule (and had
no legitimate reason to suspect that others would be
troubled by the action) are warned -- so that they are made
aware of the line that had been crossed. However, sentences
tend to be applied to people who _already_ know better.
Some societies (or members of a society) believe in
sentences that "teach a lesson" -- though I think that most
Sudbury schools would phrase this as "demonstrate clearly
how deeply the community cares about certain rules." Some
believe in sentences that are preventative -- that make it
harder for the convict to repeat her/his offense. Some feel
that a sentence demonstrates a social price for the action
in order to discourage similar acts by others. Some feel
that a sentence in an environment where following a sentence
is a matter of trust -- no locks or restraints prevent a
person sentenced out of the basement from going into the
basement -- is designed to let the person perform a task or
penance to "square" her/himself with the society. Most
people at Sudbury Valley accept all of these points (and
probably others that I have missed) as legitimate rationales
for sentences -- and mix-and-match these judicial
philosophies depending on the particulars of a case.
In "real life" the consequences to an adult of not reading
history are _not_ being rapped on the knuckles, being corced
or cajoled to sit through lectures, or getting big red marks
on essays they are required to write which in fact nobody
wants to read. The consequences are that the adult has time
for other things, and that on the one day s/he really
wants/needs to know about the 1494 Florentine revolution
s/he'll decide to look it up.
However, in real life, the consequences for breaking social
conventions are that the _society_ bands together and issues
some consequences. Really, from a selfish point of view,
the only reason _not_ to steal (for example) is that there
will be social (including legal) consequences if you are
caught (and for people with a well-developed super-ego, that
those social ramifications will play out internally even if
not caught :-). Societies protect themselves with rules in
advance, that tell the members of the society what lines
simply may not be crossed without consequences.
There is a difference between coercing people to
"do" something, and an individual or group that feels itself
wronged coercing people to "not do" something. Your space
is yours and I will not tell you how to use it -- but my
space is mine and if you infringe on it there will be
On Fri, 26 Oct 2001, Karen Locke wrote:
> Mike et al
> It has taken a while to answer because I don't really understand the system
> Village School is working under myself. I think it's a hybrid of ideas from
> Alfie Kohn (Beyond Discipline) and Restorative Justice . The main goal of
> this system seem to me to be trying to achieve positive behavior by asking
> and encouraging instead of demanding it. So there is a restorative justice
> committee which acts somewhat like the JC does at SVs, but if kids don't
> come to the RJC meeting when they're written up there isn't always a
> consequence, and consequences at the RJC are agreed by consensus and not
> imposed. In my experience these meetings tend to be somewhat better than
> some JC meetings I've been at in finding the underlying tensions and
> frictions between 2 people. In that way they're something like mediation.
> But it seems not to control "wild" behavior - running, biking, etc. in the
> school-very well. This problem is compounded this year by the fact that 40%
> of the school population is new (and 40% of the staff, as well). So many
> kids didn't vote on the rules to begin with, and they don't feel invested in
> the continuation of the school or an orderly atmosphere.
> I've been asked why, if I support an "organic" form of education in
> academics, I don't support it in learning behavioral skills. My response
> was that consequences are one way we learn behavioral skills. But I'm not
> sure that's valid. That's what people say about academics: if we don't make
> them they won't learn. All I know is that I go a little crazy when the
> environment seems out of control. I can be o.k. if kids aren't learning
> their alphabet. But if they're hitting and calling names it seems crucial
> to me to stop it ASAP.
> Thoughts? Can we do JC by consensus, including the "offender"? Are there
> other structures out there for meeting out justice?
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mike Sadofsky" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: <email@example.com>
> Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2001 6:14 PM
> Subject: Re: DSM:
> > Karen,
> > Being unfamiliar with the term, I thought about asking you to define
> > it and contrast it with your understanding of the SVS judicial system.
> > Instead, I did a quick search on the topic and went to the University
> > of Minnesota site where I found a paper, Balanced and Restorative
> > Justice for Juveniles, A Framework for Juvenile Justice in the 21st
> > Century. Table 1 on page 23 appears to compare "restorative justice"
> > with "retributive justice." (Unfortunately it is in pdf format and I
> > don't have the tools to extract and enclose the Table. But here is
> > the link http://ssw.che.umn.edu/rjp/Resources/Resource.htm#Restorative
> > Justice and the paper is Bazemore, G., Pranis, K. & Umbreit. M.S.
> > 1997. Balanced and Restorative Justice for Juveniles: A Framework for
> > Juvenile Justice in the 21st Century. St. Paul, MN: Center for
> > Restorative Justice & Peacemaking, University of Minnesota.)
> > Now obviously, I haven't studied the topic, but my understanding of
> > the judicial system and practice in effect at Sudbury Valley School
> > puts it very clearly in the "restorative" column. I would be
> > interested in learning why you apparently reach a different
> > conclusion.
> > Mike
> > On Sun, 21 Oct 2001 17:42:22 -0500, you wrote:
> > >I would like to know what differences there are between schools in their
> judicial system. I've seen the original at SVS, but my school is trying to
> do something called "restorative justice committee". Is anyone else trying
> to do that? If so, how does it work there? If not, what are other
> different ways to do it?
> > >
> > >Thanks,
> > >
> > >Karen Locke
> > ===========
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-- --Scott David Gray reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.unseelie.org/ ============================================================ A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.
-- Daniel Webster ============================================================
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