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Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth [RJOY]

In 2005, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth [RJOY] was co-created by Fania Davis and members of the Oakland community and government. RJOY works to implement programs within schools, the community and juvenile justice system; beginning with a pilot program at West Oakland middle school in 2007. In the places where restorative justice has been implemented, there has been a noticeable decrease in youth violence, crimes and recidivism; and an increase in victim satisfaction and reconciliation of affected parties.

RJOYRestorative justice provides an alternative to our current retributive justice system, by shifting to bring in all affected parties, addressing the harms done and find ways to heal all affected parties. Our current justice system is designed to answer the questions: “Who did what and how can we punish them?” In contrast, restorative justice asks the questions:

“Who was harmed? What are the needs and responsibilities of all those affected? “How do all affected parties come together to heal?”

Restorative justice has had remarkable success in shifting the way that justice is carried out to better benefit the affected parties and community as a whole. Modern practices of restorative justice have been around for 30+ years, but are grounded in ancient, indigenous justice practices.

To learn more about restorative justice and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth [RJOY], check out the site here.

From the site…

History
The dramatic successes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in healing the wounds of mass violence in South Africa and of restorative juvenile justice legislation in making youth incarceration virtually obsolete in New Zealand inspired civil rights attorney and community activist Fania E. Davis to explore the possibility of an Oakland initiative. In 2005, others joined the effort, including Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel and community activist Aeeshah Clottey. Nancy hosted a series of meetings at her office, attended by community members, judges, educators, law students and representatives of the District Attorney’s, Public Defender’s, and Human Services offices. With a small grant from Measure Y, Oakland’s voter-approved violence prevention initiative, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) was born.

Mission
Disparately impacting youth of color, punitive school discipline and juvenile justice policies activate tragic cycles of youth violence, incarceration, and wasted lives. Founded in 2005, RJOY works to interrupt these cycles by promoting institutional shifts toward restorative approaches that actively engage families, communities, and systems to repair harm and prevent re-offending. RJOY focuses on reducing racial disparities and public costs associated with high rates of incarceration, suspension, and expulsion. We provide education, training, and technical assistance and collaboratively launch demonstration programs with our school, community, juvenile justice, and research partners.

Beginning in 2007, RJOY’s city-funded West Oakland Middle School pilot project eliminated violence and expulsions, and reduced suspension rates by 87%, saving the school thousands in attendance and Title I funding. Inspired by the successes of our Middle School pilot, by May 2008, nearly 20 Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) principals requested training to launch programs at their sites. We have served over 1000 youth in Oakland’s schools. UC Berkeley Law’s Henderson Center for Social Justice evaluated the Middle School pilot and released a study in February 2011. A publication on implementing restorative initiatives in schools produced in collaboration with the Alameda County Health Care Agency is forthcoming. In 2010, the OUSD Board of Directors passed a resolution adopting restorative justice as a system-wide alternative to zero tolerance discipline and as an approach to creating healthier schools.

RJOY has enjoyed similar success in the juvenile justice arena. In 2007, we gave educational presentations to the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court and others. Impressed with the restorative justice model, the judge convened a Restorative Justice Task Force. RJOY provided education and training and helped initiate a planning process which engaged approximately 60 program directors- including probation, court, school, and law enforcement officials, as well as community-based stakeholders. In 2009, the group produced a Strategic Plan that charts reform of the county’s juvenile justice system through institutionalization of restorative justice. Two innovative restorative diversion and restorative re-entry projects focused on reducing disproportionate minority contact and associated public costs. The pilots have successfully served 19 youth of color. In collaboration with several partners, we now seek funding to expand the pilots.

RJOY has had programs at three school sites- West Oakland Middle School, Ralph Bunche Continuation School, and a three-year demonstration program at East Oakland’s Castlemont Community of Small Schools funded by a grant from The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities Initiative. Goals of the demonstration program were to reduce violence, arrests, and suspensions (particularly of youth of color) while decreasing associated costs and promoting parent and community engagement.

Having trained and made presentations to more than 1500 key justice, community, school, and philanthropic stakeholders as well as youth in the Oakland metropolitan area, and having significantly influenced policy changes in our schools and juvenile justice system, RJOY has already made headway toward its strategic goal of effectuating a fundamental shift from punitive, zero tolerance approaches to youthful wrongdoing that increase harm toward more restorative approaches that heal it.

Resource Link: http://rjoyoakland.org/

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