Ted Wachtel, IIRP PresidentIIRP President Ted Wachtel will be presenting and delivering keynotes at three major conferences in Europe within two weeks during late October and the beginning of November. The general aim of his talks will be to encourage practitioners to associate themselves and connect with the larger international restorative practices movement.

In Utrecht, the Netherlands, from October 19 to October 21, 2011, the European congress on the Family Group Conference (FGC, also called Family Group Decision Making or FGDM in North America) will meet on the theme of "Democratizing Help and Welfare" in Europe. The emphasis during the congress is "the important role that may be played by the vision that underlies Family Group Conferencing."

This conference is primarily for FGC/FGDM coordinators and facilitators throughout Europe. Wachtel plans to make the case that welfare and family professionals can begin to see themselves as part of the larger restorative practices movement. This movement includes not only work in the social welfare field, but also restorative conferencing and other programs in the criminal justice field, restorative practices for building positive culture and responding to harm in schools, and community efforts and management strategies in the workplace.

By Suzanne Cope

Kevin Finnigan is the youngest of his siblings, and as his mother Mary puts it, “fell in with the wrong crowd.” After multiple interactions with the Bucks County (Pennsylvania, USA) Juvenile Probation Office, Kevin was facing residential placement for repeated non-violent probation violations. In most communities, this would require Kevin to leave his family and school for the duration of his placement. When that placement ended, he would then have to deal with the upheaval of reintegration into his home community. Instead, Kevin was referred to a groundbreaking new program, the Community Service Foundation (CSF) Restorative Reporting Center (RRC), a model program of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Graduate School.

CSF, which has operated a network of schools and other programs for at-risk youth since 1977, developed the RRC program so that young people like Kevin can stay home with their families and attend their home schools for the duration of their placements.

Other programs, known as evening reporting centers, also allow adjudicated youth to remain home with their families. What’s different about the RRC program is that it immerses young people in an intensive environment of restorative practices.

UVM Uses Restorative Practices in Residence Halls Across CampusLast year the University of Vermont (UVM) began using circles and other restorative practices within their department of residential life. In August 2010 IIRP trained all 129 RAs plus other residential life administrative staff to run community circles, to help build community, and also to use restorative practices to respond to incidents in the halls and on campus.

IIRP’s Steve Korr was one of three trainers who delivered this year’s training. “It was a very good training. There was lots of energy, lots of excitement. UVM has a number of very bright people there for whom this really resonated. They very strongly resonated with this whole idea of being real with each other, the whole idea of transparency and having authentic dialog even when it’s not the easy stuff.”

 

Terry Frieden of CNN reports on Tue October 4, 2011 titled, "Report Calls for Sharply Reducing Juvenile Incarceration":

Locking juvenile offenders behind bars is costly and largely ineffective, according to a report released Tuesday by an advocacy group that favors alternatives to youth detention.

The report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation examined data from the past four decades and found that removing juveniles from detention facilities in cash-strapped states has not caused crime rates to jump.

"Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime," the report found.

I'd like to point out a new blog of the Colorado Restorative Justice Council, which is being coordinated by IIRP graduate Ben Emery. In a recent post, Emery asks, "Restorative Justice Training - Co-op Style?" He points out:

The State Coordinating Council on Restorative Justice is into its toddler years now. And when Senate Bill 11-1032, deemed the Restorative Justice Bill, landed on 22 district attorney desks this summer, those D.A.s no longer needed to Google restorative justice. Many have been using the approach for some years now.

... Among today's pressing issues facing the Colorado restorative justice community, which include consensus building around standards of practice as well as credentialing, is the question of sustainable training models.

The other day I posted about Dignity in Schools week of action on school pushout. You can find actions near you here.

Since we're based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania I'd like to highlight this event in Philadelphia tomorrow - Thursday, October 6, 2011, from 5:30 to 8 pm: "Youth Speak Out Against Push Out": Story-gathering on School Push Out, at The United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA (between 17th & 18th).

They event page says, "Young people will come together to share their experiences with pushout, including issues such as school policing, zero tolerance policies, the impact of budget cuts, lack of violence prevention, youth incarceration, and more." Folks are invited to: "Come share your stories, hear from young people, and build youth power to challenge the many ways young people are pushed out of our schools!" It sounds like a great event.

Over the next week Dignity in Schools, with whom IIRP has collaborated in the past, now presents a week of action:

Throughout the week of October 1-8, 2011, thousands of parents, youth, and educators will participate in student-led actions and events in 27 cities to expose the school pushout crisis in our nation and advocate for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity. The events and actions will include street theater, public forums, rallies, restorative justice trainings, and more.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign’s National Week of Action brings together organizations and individuals from 13 states to call for an end to zero tolerance policies, for the implementation of positive approaches to discipline, like restorative justice practices and positive behavior supports instead of relying solely on suspensions and expulsions, and for the passage of federal legislation that promotes positive school climates.

Lynette Parker has written up a nice concise piece about her recent trip to Bulgaria. Parker works with Prison Fellowship national organizations in the development of justice reform initiatives and programs. She writes:

The guiding philosophy behind the project is that children and their families are capable of solving their own problems and all those affected by a crime or harmful behaviour should be included in the response. It incorporates various services such as mentoring, support groups for parents of at-risk children, counselling, and restorative conferencing – both with victims and to address family issues.

Considering the role of the entire community in responding to the needs of at-risk youth, PF Bulgaria created a civil network of 16 different organisations and various individuals interested in working with young people. ... The idea is that positively involving community members and organisations in the lives of juveniles will create stronger connections and lead to a more restorative community.

Read the full piece, "Alternatives for Juveniles in Bulgaria," here

 Update (Sept 30, 2011): Dates of the conference have been changed to November 7 - 10 to accommodate a scheduling conflict at the training site.

IIRP Canada offers its Fall Institute from November 7 - 10, 2011 in Port Hope, Ontario. IIRP conducts similar four-day events throughout the world. The first day is an introduction to the Restorative Practices Framework, the second a workshop on using circles effectively and the third and fourth days comprise a training to learn to facilitate restorative conferences. One of the nice things about this four-day event is that while it attracts many people who work in schools, from administrators to teachers and counselors, the concepts can easily be applied and adapted in a wide variety of settings, including residential facilities, community programs, workplaces and in work with families.

RJC Launches Practitioners RegisterThis is exciting news from the UK – the creation of a register for restorative practitioners and the launching of a quality control structure. The Restorative Justice Council (RJC) "Practitioner Register" for the first time gives restorative practitioners professional recognition for their work. It has a very broad focus, open to practitioners in education, social care, criminal justice and community-based agencies as well as practitioners using these skills in their workplace. Based on the national occupational standards, the Practitioner Register for the first time provides a truly national framework for quality assurance for this field.

Crispin Blunt, Secretary of State for Justice, speaking to practitioners at the launch event commented, "Practitioner registration is essential in building public confidence in restorative justice and providing anyone considering participation in restorative justice with a transparent check on whether the person working with them is qualified to do so." He added, "The public deserve the reassurance that this register will provide and as a society we need the best restorative practice that you have to offer."

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