In the News

 

Fania Davis to be honored as a 2015 “Women’s History Trailblazer” on March 19th

Join Alameda County Supervisor, Keith Carson, for his annual Women’s History Month Celebration to honor women’s history trailblazers. Click here to attend the event.

Restorative Justice’ program has become a vital tool for public

Click here for the full article.

The new civil rights leaders: Emerging voices of the 21st century | Fania Davis profiled in LA Times

Some of the concerns are old — voting rights, police misconduct, racial profiling. Others — such as trans rights and access to technology — are more recent. Much in the spirit of activists who pushed for civil rights a half century ago, a new generation is fighting battles old and new. Click here for the full article.

Mindful Teachers Interview with Dr. Fania Davis: Restorative, Not Punitive, Responses to Youthful Wrongdoing

RJOY Executive Director, Dr. Fania Davis, discusses how healing and restorative, rather than punitive, approaches can transform schools. Click here for the full interview.

 

Sharp Drop in Suspensions as Boston Schools try ‘Restorative’ Approach

State data show a staggering drop in drug- and violence-related suspensions in Boston schools since the district amended its discipline policies to allow “restorative justice” measures in lieu of suspensions, including written apologies, conferences between offenders and victims, and anger management courses. For the full article, please click here.

 

Restorative Justice Bill in Massachusetts

The RJ Collaborative is sponsoring Senator Eldridge’s Bill 52: An Act promoting restorative justice practices. For more information, please read the article on the Huffington Post. We urge all members to call their respective senators and representatives to express support of the bill. The bill can be found here.

 

Recent studies reveal and confirm a preschool-to-prison pipeline

Although African-Americans constitute only 13 percent of all Americans, nearly half of all prison inmates in the U.S. are black. This startling statistic has led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to publicly criticize the U.S. for its treatment of African-Americans. A number of recent studies and reports paint a damning picture of how American society dehumanizes blacks starting from early childhood. Click here for the full article.

 

Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth Featured on PRI (Public Radio International)

RJOY Executive Director, Fania Davis, and program staff Eric Butler are interviewed by Jim Vrettos for a PRI program discussing social transformation, peace movements, and the search for restorative justice. Click here to listen to the radio program.

 

A tribute to Judge Henry Ramsey, Jr.

In 1975, Judge Henry Ramsey, Jr. was my first—and, as it turned out, only—African-American law professor at UC Berkeley Law. I’d known him in the years since as an esteemed public figure—warrior for justice, judge, legal scholar, law school dean, and world traveler. After I graduated from law school, we’d bump into one another occasionally. Once, near the county courthouse steps he recounted spellbinding stories of working in Africa. Another time he asked me to have my sister Angela Davis inscribe one of her books to his daughter. Our paths crossed again in Martha’s Vineyard.

I cannot express how grateful I am to have received the blessing of spending more and more time in his presence during what would be the last year of his life. I spent more time connecting with him as a human being in the last year than in all the prior 40 years I’d known him combined. It is as if the gods smiled upon me. Judge Ramsey was deeply impressed by the promise of restorative justice as an alternative to mass incarceration strategies, particularly in relationship to our youth. A vigorous supporter of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), he spent hours emailing, on phone conferences, and in meetings strategizing about how to support restorative services for our youth and how to bring about restorative shifts in juvenile justice policy in the county.

As I reminisce about it, Judge Ramsey’s 80th birthday black-tie celebration at the Claremont Hotel this past January was dream-like in its beauty and love. Family, friends, and relatives arrived from all over. That night, we learned more about the details of his life’s journey—from picking cotton in North Carolina, dropping out of high school, entering law school, founding a civil rights law firm, to becoming a legal scholar, judge, and then Dean of Howard law School. We heard the voices of his children and grandchildren. He was their rock and inspiration. We heard from his beloved wife and from colleagues and friends. That celebration allowed me to appreciate even more deeply the gift Judge Ramsey was to the world.

In an email written a few days before his passing, Judge Ramsey informed me he was sending a personal check and intended to raise several thousand dollars to support RJOY’s work with youth returning from a period of incarceration. I wrote back, “Judge Ramsey, you’re truly an angel”. He responded, “I’m more like a struggling sinner” to which I replied, “Haha… whatever we decide to call you, all I know is I really appreciate you!” After learning of his passing, I went to my inbox, searched for his most recent emails, and saw through tears that in the last 24 hours of his life, he’d sent out multiple emails to raise money for RJOY, for our youth. I will forever be humbled, honored, and moved.

I can only celebrate, cherish, and revere this great human being who cared so much about others, especially our children, to the very end of his life.

- Fania Davis

 

San Francisco Unified Approves Huge School Discipline Change

Parents and students rallied on Tuesday, February 25, as the San Francisco Unified School District voted on a plan to reduce suspensions for students of color and create a comprehensive system of positive interventions, restorative practices, and supports. With the approval of the Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution, San Francisco is the second California school district to ban suspensions for minor behavior commonly known as “willful defiance. Click here for more on this huge change.

 

RJOY Featured in YES! Magazine — “Discipline with Dignity: Oakland Classrooms try Healing instead of Punishment” By Fania Davis

February 19, 2014 — Tommy, an agitated 14-year-old high school student in Oakland, Calif., was in the hallway cursing out his teacher at the top of his lungs. A few minutes earlier, in the classroom, he’d called her a “b___” after she twice told him to lift his head from the desk and sit up straight. Eric Butler, the school coordinator for Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY—the author is executive director of the organization) heard the ruckus and rushed to the scene. The principal also heard it and appeared. Though Butler tried to engage him in conversation, Tommy was in a rage and heard nothing. He even took a swing at Butler that missed. Grabbing the walkie-talkie to call security, the principal angrily told Tommy he would be suspended.

“I don’t care if I’m suspended. I don’t care about anything,” Tommy defiantly responded. Butler asked the principal to allow him to try a restorative approach with Tommy instead of suspending him.

Butler immediately began to try to reach Tommy’s mother. This angered Tommy even more. “Don’t call my momma. She ain’t gonna do nothing. I don’t care about her either.”

“Is everything OK?” The concern in Butler’s voice produced a noticeable shift in Tommy’s energy… Click here for the full article.

 

RJ Being Implemented in Colorado Schools

“To curb conflict, a Colorado high school replaces punishment with conversation.” (Feb 20, 2014) Read the full article at pbs.org.

 

RJOY’s Work at Ralph J. Bunche High School Featured in New York Times — “Opening Up, Students Transform Vicious Cycle”

April 3, 2013 — There is little down time in Eric Butler’s classroom.

“My daddy got arrested this morning,” Mercedes Morgan, a distraught senior, told the students gathered there.

Mr. Butler’s mission is to help defuse grenades of conflict at Ralph J. Bunche High School, the end of the line for students with a history of getting into trouble. He is the school’s coordinator for restorative justice, a program increasingly offered in schools seeking an alternative to “zero tolerance” policies like suspension and expulsion… Read the full article at NYTimes.com.

 

Restorative Justice Legislation in Congress

The United States House of Representatives is considering at least three bills that promote the use of restorative justice in schools.

H.R. 4286, The Restorative Justice in Schools Act of 2009, would open up existing funds for training school personnel about restorative justice.

H.R. 1064, known as the Youth PROMISE Act of 2009 provides federal support for community, school, and police to collaboratively identify, develop, implement, and evaluate plans designed to address unmet needs of youth at risk for juvenile delinquency or gang involvement. One of the many methods authorized by this bill is restorative justice. The bill appropriates progressively increasing funding over the next four fiscal years: from $6.8 million in 2010 up to $13.6 million in 2014.

H.R. 4000, The Conflict Resolution and Mediation Act of 2009 would authorize the Secretary of Education to grant $25 million to local educational agencies most directly affected by conflict and violence. The funds used to develop and implement conflict resolution and mediation programs for students, teachers, and other school personnel would be available until fiscal year 2015.

NOTE: HR 1064 has been recommended to be considered by the House as a whole. Other Bills are still in committee.

 

Alameda County Pioneers Restorative Justice Council for Youth

New America Media, News Feature, Annette Fuentes, Posted: Jun 15, 2009

Alameda county is experimenting with a new pilot program which hopes to reduce recidivism among young offenders and also force them to confront the consequences of their actions. NAM editor Annette Fuentes met its first candidate. Read the article at newamericamedia.org.

 

Rethinking Juvenile Justice

Two local programs offer alternatives to the failing system. One of them transforms teenage offenders into attorneys. The other wants to change our notion of justice. Read the article at eastbayexpress.com.

 

Restorative Justice Expanding for Juveniles

After more than a year in juvenile hall, 18-year-old Dante Green was given the chance of a lifetime: Join a Circle of Support and Accountability (COSA) and turn his life around. That was six months ago. Dante is now out of custody, attending college, and hoping to major in political science at UC Berkeley. Read the article at forensicpsychologist.