- Accountability Afterschool Afterschool and Youth Development Altruism Appleseed AYD brene brown Circle process Cleveland conflict COOPERATION cultural approriation cultural competency culture Disproportionality in Discipline Dispute Resolution Center education education policy Education research empathy Florida Highline IIRP implementation interpersonal conflict John Hopkins Jon Kidde Juvenile Justice King Co. Juvenile Justice leadership leadership style oakland OCR Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution opinion OSPI OUSD PBIS pilot project race Rand corp Restorative Justice RJ RJ circles School-to-Prison Pipeline school discipline school resource officers schools Seattle Seattle Public Schools Shame Spite SROs Strategies Tacoma Talking circles Team Child Ted Wachtel theft Tools Urban Strategies Council YDEKC yes! youth writing YPQI zero tolerance policies
“Accountability” as a term to describe restorative justice. The idea/definition of accountability are counter to how we think/talk about justice.
Accountability: required to explain actions or decisions to someone
Wikipedia: It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, e.g. “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct”.
The idea conveyed by this term is that someone is holding another person accountable. When in fact restorative systems allow the author to hold themselves accountable or we (a whole community that includes the author) are holding everyone (ourselves) accountable (mutual accountability). RJ is the grounded in the philosophy that responsibility is met with action. If there is responsibility and no action there is no justice. Yet, when the author, who is responsible of the harm takes action to repair the harm… that is justice. It needs no authority, punishment, or forgiveness.
Our current discussions around police violence and communities of color tend to pit one group against the other. Communities of color are speaking (some demanding) about holding the police accountable. And, police departments demanding that everyone (read: people of color) follow police directions without question and we’ll sort it out after. Our communities of color are trying to exercises the same power dynamic over the police force. This becomes a common school yard argument you have to trust me… then I’ll trust you. When the more holistic solution would be for communities and police work together and build that trust and relationships. Largely everyone wants the same outcomes when it comes to community safety.
If RJ communities continue to use the term “accountability” we continue to support adversarial systems. The same adversarial system that got us into this mess in the first place.
(I am a person of color and support cultural competency work around the Puget Sound).
I often get the question “what are circles?”
This is a valid question. In our modern culture circle processes have be relegated to rather unique settings. You can find circle practices across the globe in all cultures and communities. They often look different but use some of the same concepts. First I want to tell you what make a circle a Circles, then we can discuss how Circles connect to the philosophy of Restorative Justice.
Circles are a formalized listening process. This structures everyone’s opportunity to speak and respond. Circles aren’t focused on solving the problem. Their main focus is to give real voice to those that have felt excluded from the conversation. In traditional classrooms we find teachers control the pacing and tempo of the conversation, they determine who speaks and who is listening. Understand that changing this dynamic can be supportive to building strong relationships between youth and teachers as well as youth and their peers. When we can give a bit of our power up to a process that includes and balances power we will achieve a growing level of engagement and stronger relationships.
Circle generally look like everyone sitting or standing in a circle, its helpful if everyone is sitting in similar chairs. Circles often have a center piece, this could be a plant, a bowl of water, a dish of sand, or a small quilt. Often a center piece is created through the contributions or all members of the circle. Similar to the center piece a talking piece is an object that has significance to all members, but this talking piece travels around the circle is a way that signifies the focus and point of power within the circle. The facilitator has a couple roles but one of the most important is asking and answering the questions. While the questions my be sourced from the group at large in the moment or in a previous activity the facilitator will pose the question for all to hear and answer the question. The manner in which the question is answered often set the standard for engagement in the topic. This description only touches on the content of the circle understand that there is more to the circle process.
The other question is “How do circles relate to the broader Restorative Justice philosophy?” Circle tie tightly to Restorative Justice do to is relationship building nature. It also engages everyone in an active process. There is rarely a “silence is agreement” culture, rather there is a culture of “I agree and this is important to me.” When we think about building relationship (the primary focus or Restorative Justice) we can see that circles can be an exceptional tool to achieve this goal, even without the heat of significant conflict.