DSM: JC & Restorative Justice

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Sat Oct 27 2001 - 01:54:39 EDT


Hi.

One difficulty I see is that as a democratic body, it would be difficult
for an individual to unilaterally implement change in the way a JC or
other democratic committee with a floating membership accomplishes what
it does. In other words, the JC (or whatever it is called) will do what
it does in the manner it sees fit.

Early on, our JC varied wildly in terms of handling cases depending on
what individuals happened to be on it that day. When we had a group of
teens in our first year that were certain the staff were secretly
controlling everything, they would refuse to charge anyone in their peer
group, even egregious writeups where people had been hurt, etc. Those
were tough to take, but over time a consistency and culture has
developed in terms of the sentencing and enforcement.

It is my experience, and I have expressed it from time to time on this
list and elsewhere, that given time with a JC system students prefer it
over other, supposedly kinder ways of changing the behavior of people
who seek to violate the rights of others. I speculate that the students
who find themselves as defendants find it the least personal & intrusive
way for the culture to communicate to them, and that students that find
themselves being violated feel empowered that they can be active
participants in the defense of their right to exist peaceably; a
balance.

The system you brought up wherein the committee can request change but
not mandate it would probably not have worked at Fairhaven; there have
been too many students in our brief history that are entirely unwilling
to change their behavior when "asked" vis a vis warnings, etc. I could
see it working at a small, established school with a very stable core of
students that can effectively use peer pressure to bring the new
students into the cultural "fold".

We were going back and forth over JC on this list a year or so ago, and
every once and a while I would start thinking about someone's ideas for
balancing individual rights versus community rights and mediating
personal disputes. But what I kept coming back to and still come back
to is that all of these ideas have come up at our school dozens of
times; they have been discussed ad infinitum by students. At any point
School Meeting could vote to change systems, but they never do.

While nobody likes to sit on JC or be written up, students really do
prefer JC over any of the other ideas that have come up. At least at
all of the schools that have JC. And like everyone else on this list
I'm a big fan of anything students prefer.

> Can we do JC by consensus, including the "offender"?

Interesting you say that - almost all of the voting in our JC is
unanimous including the defendant. Even when they have plead not
guilty, they strangely vote for their own sentences if convicted. So
that would work for us most of the time, except of course for the times
when one or more people *don't* consent to majority opinion and are
unwilling to stand aside.

-Joe

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
[mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org] On Behalf Of Karen Locke
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2001 11:29 PM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
Subject: Re: DSM:

Mike et al

Mike,

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?

Karen

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Sadofsky" <sadofsky@mediaone.net>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
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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