The International Journal of Restorative Justice


Assessing the restorativeness of American school discipline programmes

Keywords restorative index, American schools, restorativeness, restorative practices, restorative justice in education
Authors Jeremy Olson, Nadine M. Connell, Nina Barbieri en Diana Rodriguez
Author's information

Jeremy Olson
Jeremy Olson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Pennsylvania State University Wilkes-Barre, Dallas, PA, USA.

Nadine M. Connell
Nadine M. Connell, PhD. Associate Professor, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University Gold Coast Campus, Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Nina Barbieri
Nina Barbieri, PhD, Associate Professor and Assistant Department Chair, Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX, USA.

Diana Rodriguez
Diana Rodriguez, MSCJ, Doctoral student, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX, USA. Corresponding author: Jeremy Olson,
  • Abstract

      Restorative justice principles have been lauded for their potential to decrease school-based disparities in discipline, especially owing to the disproportionately negative impact on minority students and students with disabilities. Despite high levels of financial investment, little remains known about the quality of restorative justice programmes or the specific mechanism by which restorativeness is embedded into these approaches. Using the Olson and Sarver (2021) Restorative Index as a validation tool, this study assesses the level of restorativeness of twelve school-based restorative justice programmes. These programmes were identified and included on the basis of the fact that they were implemented within a U.S. school, sought to address a specific student behaviour or set of student behaviours through a restorative practice, and were subject to at least one outcomes study available in an English language journal, thesis/dissertation or report. Findings indicate a mixed level of restorative quality between programmes, with outward engagement domains of restorativeness less likely to be evident in programmes when compared with more traditionally known elements of restorative justice. In addition, U.S.-based school restorative justice programmes continue to rely on discipline-oriented practices despite claims of change. We discuss implications for both the Restorative Index and the restorative justice discipline.

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