How do restorative justice practices in schools impact involvement in the criminal justice system? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Benjamin Feigenberg, Associate Professor of Economics at University of Illinois at Chicago, on Quora:
Punitive disciplinary policies, such as the intensive use of suspensions, are linked with an increased likelihood of future academic difficulties, increased misconduct, and eventual involvement in the criminal legal system.
Restorative discipline practices offer a promising alternative. Restorative practices are based on the philosophy of Restorative Justice; an approach used in the criminal legal system that emphasizes the reparation of harm between victims and offenders. Restorative practices promote the development of socio-emotional learning by encouraging self-reflection, empathetic listening, and the creation of non-judgmental spaces for conflict resolution.
To measure the effects of school-based restorative practices (RP) on student behavior, I worked with Anjali Adukia and Fatemeh Momeni (University of Chicago) in partnership with the University of Chicago Education Lab, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, and the Chicago Police Department. We evaluated student-level, short-run educational and behavioral outcomes across 239 high schools within the CPS system. For this evaluation, we analyzed data from the start of the 2008-2009 school year through the end of the 2018-2019 school year —both before and after CPS began the implementation of RP programs in 2013-2014. By comparing student behavior before and after exposure to RP and across multiple school environments (difference- in-differences style research design), we are able to identify the causal effect of restorative practices programming.
We find that restorative practices reduce student arrests in and outside of school; for both violent and non-violent offenses. Schools that implemented restorative practices policies saw a staggering 35% reduction in student arrests in school, and a 15% reduction in out-of-school student arrests.
In addition to significant decreases in student arrests, restorative practices decreased out-of-school suspensions by 18%. We also found suggestive evidence of improvements in students’ perceptions of school climate. Programmatic benefits were particularly large for Black students, although it is important to note that we also found evidence that Latino male students’ test scores may have declined in response to restorative practices adoption.
Future research is needed to understand why students might have been affected in different ways, but these findings provide promising early evidence that restorative practices programming may help to protect students against involvement in the criminal legal system.
This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.