Students Complete Training in the Restorative Justice Project
Director of Communications
Touro Law Students Work with the Center for Restorative Practices to Help Break the School to Prison Pipeline for At-Risk Youth.
Central Islip, NY – Nine Touro Law students completed Conference Facilitator training as part of the Restorative Justice Project. This innovative pro bono project, launched last year, is designed to help at- risk youth in the communities surrounding Touro Law Center. Touro Law students are working in conjunction with the Center for Restorative Practices, a non-profit organization that is housed in the William Randolph Hearst Public Advocacy Center at Touro Law, whose mission is to break the school-to-prison pipeline and reduce disproportionate minority representation in the juvenile justice system through the use of restorative justice practices alongside and/or in lieu of traditional court proceedings.
“I’m really proud of our students who began this program, and those who are committed to continuing this important work,” said Dean Salkin. “Our students are making a real difference in the lives of at-risk kids in the community, who benefit from not only their work but also from seeing someone advocate on their behalf. It’s a great program that provides outstanding opportunities for our students to hone their advocacy skills while having a positive impact in the lives of kids.”
Touro Law students receive alternative dispute resolution training to facilitate conferences, which are designed to repair the harm caused by a youthful offender, through a process that is both rehabilitative and further the reintegration of the offending youth back into the community. The overall goal of the program is to take into account the needs of both the direct victim(s) of the committed offense and the needs of those indirectly affected by the offender’s actions. These restorative practice techniques stand in stark contrast to the isolative, divisive and mainly punitive-focused judicial process experienced by youthful offenders entering the traditional justice system. The need for the implementation of restorative justice within the juvenile justice system is exacerbated by the growing trend for youthful offenders to be thrown into the justice system for very minor violations. The youth, who have engaged in minor criminal activities and find themselves under probation or conditional restraints, are set up to be imprisoned for the mildest infraction: the essence of the school-to-prison pipeline. While serving the needs of the direct and indirect victims in a constructive, rehabilitative and integrative process, one of the beneficial consequences of restorative justice is breaking that school-to-prison pipeline. Touro Law students facilitate these conferences, allowing all persons involved in an incident to discuss what happened and arrive at an agreeable outcome that serves the interests of all victims and the at-risk youth in a way that the traditional juvenile justice system cannot.
To date, approximately 25 Touro Law students have received training from the Center for Restorative Practices and are actively working as facilitators with youth in the local community. Congratulations to Tesla Carrasquillo, Nicole Ciardulli, Shaunté Francis, Radimil Hidalgo, Joshua Jacobs, Ashleigh Livingston, Deborah Lolai, Naché Patoir and Joannie Rodriguez.
The Center for Restorative Practices, Inc. has a central mission to break the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” and reduce Disproportionate Minority representation in the juvenile justice system. They are advocates, advisors, and trainers in Restorative Justice, Restorative Practices and Non-violent Communication. These approaches and skills constitute effective viable alternatives to: incarceration, residential placement, school suspensions and expulsions. The organization is a member of Touro Law Center’s Public Advocacy Center and Professor Marjorie Silver is a member of their Board.