Restorative Justice in Action


Restorative Justice Dialogue for Hate Crimes & Bias-Motivated Incidents

Restorative justice has been used successfully in a number of hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents. Because of its focus on community and community resources, it is in a unique place to advance healing not just for the immediate victim but for others from the same community who are indirectly targeted by the offender.

IRJRD encourages the use of restorative justice dialogue for bias-motivated violence and intimidation. It has provided consultation to the Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force through the following activities:

  • Education about restorative justice and hate crimes to members of the Restoration Work Group, Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force.
  • Development of procedures to conduct Community Circles with victims of bias-motivated incidents and public servants responsible for responding to such incidents.
  • Facilitation of a Community Circle for persons directly experiencing or responding to hate crime and bias-motivated incidents.
  • Evaluation of the Community Circle (PDF)
  • Training of facilitators for Community Circles.

Restorative Justice Practices for Domestic Violence

Within the past decade, domestic violence practitioners, along with restorative justice researchers and practitioners, have begun to debate the merits of using restorative justice for domestic violence. Proponents encourage using restorative justice to address domestic violence, claiming it offers more options and benefits to victims, holds offenders directly accountable for their abuse, and stimulates community discussion about domestic violence.  Opponents claim restorative justice is inherently risky to victims and lacks adequate safety measures. The potential risks of using restorative justice to address domestic violence have prompted practitioners to think twice about developing and implementing restorative justice initiatives to address domestic violence.   As a result, the debate over applying restorative justice to domestic violence has remained largely theoretical in scope.

IRJRD promoted the use of modified versions of restorative justice practices for domestic violence through the following activities:

  • Identification of seven viable models of restorative justice practice for domestic violence in the US and Canada.
  • Consultation to SafePlace, an Austin non-profit providing services for victims and survivors of sexual and domestic abuse.
  • Presentations to the Travis County Family Violence Task Force.
  • Consultation to Resolve to Stop the Violence Everyday (R.A.V.E.) program, Travis County Sheriff’s Department.
  • Initiative to replicate the Cultural Context Model developed by the Institute for Family Services, Somerset, New Jersey.
  • Co-sponsorship of a conference on restorative justice and domestic violence for community agencies.

Implementation of Restorative Justice for Student Misconduct

The use of restorative justice on college and university campuses is a growing trend.   Institutions of higher education are experimenting with a variety of possibilities.  The University of Colorado at Boulder has the largest program hearing over 300 cases in 2007-2008.  Five members of a trained group of students, staff members, and community members hear two cases four days a week.   The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor offers restorative justice options through its Office of Student Conflict Resolution.  In 2007-2008, three-quarters of its 400 cases were resolved by restorative justice and other alternative options.

IRJRD conducted a three-year pilot program of Restorative Justice in a K-12 setting at Ed White Middle School in San Antonio, Texas from 2012 through 2015.  Based on the data from this study, the Texas Education Agency and IRJRD entered a contract agreement in which IRJRD was to roll-out Restorative Discipline state-wide through training sessions conducted at the Texas regional Education Service Centers.  IRJRD, under the guidance of director and founder, Dr. Marilyn Armour, created training curricula, trained facilitators and conducted 2 trainings (Administrator Readiness – 2-days and Restorative Discipline Coordinator – 5-days) at each of the 20 ESCs.  Since completing the terms of the contract with TEA in the Fall of 2017, IRJRD has continued to work with schools and districts by providing Restorative Discipline trainings that follow “Best Practices” and teach those principles and practices accepted as authentically restorative by the world-wide community of restorative practitioners.