A Curated Library of Useful Materials

Juvenile Justice

Education vs. Incarceration

Statistics from Philadelphia, with an excellent infograph.  Each state is different, of course.  But the pattern is similar in all but a few states — most notably Vermont and Maine.

Making Court the Last Resort

Making Court the Last Resort:  A New Focus for Supporting Families in Crisis:  The always-excellent Vera Institute looks at dealing with “wayward” status offenses and with families who are in distress because of problematic kids.  This report focuses on how three states have reduced or eliminated detention for kids who had seemed out of control.

Making Court Last Resort

A History of Youth Justice in New Zealand

A History of Youth Justice in New Zealand:  This paper is 30 pages, but a quick read.  A good third of it is a review of how developed nations have thought about juvenile crime and welfare.  Until the late 19th century young people were tried, imprisoned and treated the same as adults.  Later, governments vacillated between a welfare/protective model and a justice/accountability model.  In New Zealand, the Maori tribe had to fight their way onto study commissions trying to fix their counter-productive juvenile justice system.  Like other aboriginal tribes around the globe, the Maori had much more effective ways of reintegrating youthful offenders into the community.

Connecticut Juvenile Training School - Community Circles

This video showcases people who’ve been affected by a 2-year initiative to use Restorative Justice — in particular the circle process — to change the culture of this juvenile detention facility, transforming a previously hot and dangerous environment into a place where people can work out their differences.  The video includes reflections from both juvenile offenders and the staff that run the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, a remarkable experiment in Restorative Practices.

Restorative Justice in Schools

Taking Restorative Justice to Schools: A Doorway to Discipline

This short book has many stories illustrating the use of Restorative Justice in schools.  There are several such books, but we think this one is the most useful and compelling.

Better than Carrots or Sticks

Another short book, with an opening chapter that introduces the world of Restoration and argues persuasively for its implementation in schools.  Interestingly, what follows after that are not a series of new tricks of the trade, but a compendium of well-known best practices for classroom management, interpreted through a restorative lens.

Invest in Schools, Not Police

TeachersUniteNYC made this video to advocate for implementing RJ in the New York City schools, but also to appeal for adequate resources and training to make it work.  Their strategy is to take a light-hearted look at what RJ is and is not.  Under 5 minutes.


International Incarceration as compared with US

The U.S. per capita rate of incarceration is five times higher than most countries in the world.  This graph compares the rate in each U.S. state with that in other nations.  You need to scroll down 36 U.S. states before getting to Cuba.  After a few more, you’ll find Rwanda, Russia and El Salvador.

Healing and Accountability in the Criminal Justice System

This essay on Restorative Justice Processes in the Workplace describes the troubled, angry prison environment in which author Kay Pranis and her colleagues introduced healing circles.  In time the staff set up a Conflict Response Initiative, allowing anyone in the prison to call a circle to deal with issues.

“The more we didn’t care about them (inmates), the more we didn’t care about each other.” — Corrections Officer, Minnesota Department of Corrections

Photo credit:  Jo Bauen

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017

PPI, the Prison Policy Initiative, has many reports, most with good graphics and data.  This report shows you who is being incarcerated and where.

Wait, does the United States have 1.3 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of confinement are so fragmented and controlled by various entities.”

Restorative Conferencing, aka Family Group Conferencing

An Example of Restorative Justice with Sujatha Baliga

Sujatha Baliga tells a 5-minute story about conferencing a car theft.  The victim was very reluctant at first, wanting revenge, but then figured she might get more satisfaction if she could express her anger directly.  (This is why well-trained facilitators are essential to RJP’s success.)

Likely Baliga wanted to tell this story both because the conference was unusually successful, and because what the victim ultimately wanted is this side of funny.

Video of a Restorative Conference

This video shows us a real, not staged, restorative conference.  Edited down to about a half hour, the actual conference probably took about two hours. Still, you can see the basic format and the emotions that well up.