Looking back on the first Restorative Justice Peer Jury in CPS
Over the past 22 years, Alternatives’ Restorative Justice program has impacted tens of thousands of teachers and students throughout the city of Chicago. We are looking back on how it started from the perspective of Pat Zamora, who was the Director of Alternatives’ YouthNet program at Senn High School at the time.
Over the years, Alternatives has participated in many collaborative initiatives to help push the Chicago Public Schools forward including the Restorative Justice Steering Committee with Community Justice for Youth Institute, the Safe Schools Consortium with the Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center and Communities United, EMBRACE RJ with the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice at Roosevelt University, Umoja, and other school-focused organizations, and Right on Justice with Communities United and dozens of other organizations. Along with these and other groups, we’ve worked to revise the Code of Conduct of the Chicago Public Schools multiple times, and to continually update and improve the strategies used to implement restorative practices in schools across the city.
Pat Zamora looks back on the beginning of Alternatives' Restorative Justice work
Since the early days at Senn, Alternatives’ approach has focused heavily on youth leadership — training young people to resolve conflicts and build a more restorative, supportive, and equitable community within their school. Over the years, our approach has evolved, so we now train youth people to be Peace Ambassadors, keeping circles and leading Peer Conferences (the updated version of Peer Jury). We have a short behind the scenes clip from a recent peer conference training conducted at McCutcheon Elementary.