YWCA La Crosse

Justice Circles

 

YWCA La Crosse restorative justice program in collaboration with local middle schools, Lincoln and Logan will begin this fall. The Justice Circles Program will focus on using an alternative discipline model to keep students in school and out of the justice system by training students to facilitate restorative circles.

In 2014, La Crosse County released a report indicating that juveniles in La Crosse County were arrested at a much higher rate than both the state and the three like-size counties’ arrest rates. The study also indicated that students of color had a much higher incident of arrests than their white counterparts. The results also indicated that these arrests were most likely to occur during the weekdays, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:59 p.m. at a school location. Thus, prompting the YWCA La Crosse, Lincoln and Logan Middle Schools to implement the pilot restorative justice program to combat the disproportionate minority contact that is occurring.

Funded by La Crosse Community Foundation and United Way Venture Grant, the Justice Circles Program will train selected school staff on restorative principles and train nominated students using the circle process model. These trained students will facilitate Justice Circles for peers referred for disciplinary actions such as truancy, peer conflict or insubordination. These circles hold students directly accountable for their behavior and provide a community response to repair the harm that was caused by their actions. Justice Circles also work as a preventative tool to develop and enhance leadership skills among the trained student facilitators.

For more information about the Justice Circles program please contact Tracie Stinson, YWCA La Crosse Teen Services Director at (608) 781-2783 ext. 231 or tstinson@ywcalax.org