Restorative justice is a philosophy and practice of taking responsibility for actions that have hurt or harmed someone else and/or yourself. Rather than focus on punishment and isolation from the community, restorative justice focuses on meaningful accountability, which includes actively engaging in understanding what harms have been done and how to repair those harms. Mediation, circling, family conferencing, victim/offender meetings and other collaborative processes are commonly utilized through a restorative framework.
The goal of restorative justice, on the school level, is to look at the effectiveness of restorative justice in addressing the disproportional number of students of color being affected by major discipline referrals (in-school suspension, suspension and expulsion). On a juvenile justice level, the pilot project aims to look at options that keep students in school and break the connection between exclusionary practices in education and rates of juvenile incarceration. The program allows administrators to reduce or eliminate major referrals depending on the outcome of the meetings, as well as provide support for students, families, and staff to find meaningful accountability and repair relationships that have been harmed.
Rigler's Restorative Justice program was funded by a 3-year grant from the Northwest Health Foundation, which ended in 2014.The grant funded a Restorative Justice School Specialist position, held by Tobin Krell, of Resolutions Northwest (RNW). RNW is a unique Portland-based, nonprofit organization, working to make the metro-area a more livable community through conflict resolution and peace making. We provide a wide range of mediation and facilitation services, as well as trainings and community education through outreach, that help community members find solutions to conflict and learn new tools to add to their conflict resolution toolboxes. We help families, neighborhoods and communities creatively address conflict; working with real people, to solve real conflict, using collaborative conflict resolution-based processes.