Durango 9R School District received the Expelled and At Risk Student Services Grant, and is partnering with La Plata Youth Services to bring restorative practices to 5 9R schools this year. This is a four year grant which allows for implementing sustainability plans, maintaining and expanding the project over the next four years.
"I would not have learned from punishment for my actions in the end it would only make me angrier and do the same actions again. This program helped me see that I was not a bad kid but that I just made some bad decisions. I felt supported through the process and grew a support system through all the people that helped me. This support is important through the restorative justice process and I still felt it to this day. If I told others about this process I would say it is something you will never forget, and I see myself making better decisions and going down the right path in life because of it." - La Plata County Student, Age 17
Restorative Justice principles are derived from indigenous peoples all over the world. Many cultures around the world have their own ways of peacemaking, often focusing on keeping the community in-tact and righting the wrongs of an individual or a group while reintegrating the responsible person back into the community. Current studies are showing that Western Judicial philosophy, entailing harsh punishment, isolation, and retribution, may be more harmful and costly to society than other rehabilitative methods. The current disciplinary systems we have in schools and courts have high rates of recidivism and reoffending, are not inclusive of all parties, and are contributing to racial disparities in these systems.
Our traditional judicial system operate on the premise that a law/rule was broken and the "offender" or defendant must pay the state in the form of incarceration, fines, community service, and restitution to the victim in monetary compensation. RJ philosophy maintains that harm done during a crime/incident/conflict affects people and therefore the reparation of that harm must involve the people who were harmed or directly impacted. RJ promotes re-building relationships while holding Respect, Responsibility, Repair, and Reintegration as core values within the process. Restorative justice is a practice that strengthens communities, allows responsible parties to take accountability, and reduces potential for repeating that behavior.
La Plata Youth Services operates with a restorative philosophy within all of our programming. Our Diversion Program focuses on supporting youth to build their assets and protective factors, while giving them an opportunity to repair harm. Our school based programming (Community in Schools Partnership) and mentorship program (Radical Possibilities) incorporate restorative practices for community building and peacemaking. Restorative Justice Practices align with our organizational values of Social Justice, Integrity, Collaboration, Compassion, and Community.
In the last three years of facilitating restorative processes with our Diversion program clients, we have had 0% recidivism from youth who participated in a restorative community conference or mediation. Recidivism is defined here as the act of committing the same type of crime again.
According to our post-process survey results from last year:
In 2015 LPYS partnered with the La Plata County Collaborative Management Program (CMP), also known as Student Multi-disciplinary Assessment Review Team (SMART), to create a support network to bring community resources to La Plata County Schools. This Community In Schools Partnership (CISP) provides therapists, consultation and strategic planning, coordination for incorporating Restorative Practices, and a variety of professional facilitators to run LGBTQIA and Youth of Color groups within schools. CISP started with one school in 9R school district In 2015. Today, CISP is running in every school at 9R school district. In 2016, LPYS received funding to begin implementing restorative practices at Miller Middle School. Since then, we have partnered with 5 schools in La Plata County to begin planning and implementation efforts. We currently coordinate with Durango High School, Miller Middle School, Escalante Middle School, Big Picture High School, and Park Elementary. In the 2017-18 school year, CISP Restorative Practices schools served over 250 students who would have otherwise faced detention, suspension, or expulsion for their behavior without an opportunity to repair the harm.
Restorative Practices in schools focus on building a positive and healthy school climate, where relationships between students and their peers, teachers, administrators, and other school staff are strong and healthy. This healthy school climate also includes support for students to learn from harmful incidents, their own harmful actions, and how to repair damaged relationships. It also gives students who were harmed by an incident the opportunity to have a voice and some resolution. These practices include holding space for people to build and repair those relationships.
Come in or download a volunteer application and talk with our Restorative Justice Coordinator (Dillon Walls) about an opportunity to participate in a conference, give your voice as a member of our community.
For a comprehensive view of the statistics on RJ success and effectiveness please visit any of these websites:
For more information on Restorative Justice practices here are some links:
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