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Disruption of School-to-Prison Pipeline

The school-to-prison pipeline is a metaphor used to describe the increasing patterns of contact that students have with the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems as a result of the traditional punitive practices implemented by educational institutions.

Restorative Practices reduce the disproportionality high disciplinary referrals, suspensions and expulsions of children of color and; therefore, reduce the odds that students will subsequently become involved in the juvenile justice system.

Sample RP Process with Schools

  • Initial Connection and Planning
  • In-Person Facilitated Assessment
  • Prioritization and Planning
  • Facilitation of Tailored Training Workshops and Coaching
  • Feedback From RP Team Every Few Months
  • On-Going Evaluation for All Staff

For more information or if you’re interested in bringing this program to your school, please call Amber Ford at 303.865.5624 or email amber.ford@conflictcenter.org.

Restorative Practices
in Action

Building relationships that are central to community

Addressing misbehavior and harm in ways that strengthen relationships

Focusing on the harm done rather than the rule that is broken

Giving voice to the person harmed

Engaging in collaborative problem-solving

Has a dramatic personal effect on practitioners and others involved in the process

Learn & Share

Core Conflict Center Trainings

Our trainings are always customizable and built on the specific needs of the school or institution to create a sustainable Restorative Practices culture. To schedule a training at your institution please contact our Restorative Practices Coordinator at 303.865.5624 or amber.ford@conflictcenter.org 

101 Introduction to Restorative Practice: Philosophy and Foundational Tenets of RP

201: Practical Skills for Community Building

301: Facilitating Formal Circles to Repair Harm

Additional Customized Trainings

Implicit Bias in Restorative Practice

Implicit bias refers to unconscious attitudes, reactions, stereotypes, and categories that affect behavior and understanding. Implicit bias often refers to unconscious racial or socioeconomic bias towards students. This half training will address how our own biases inform our restorative work., and introduce ways to be more mindful in our practice and implementation

Refresher Course

This half day training is designed for participants who have completed at least the 101 Restorative Practices training. The course reviews the basics of Restorative Practices and explores where, how and why practitioners can get stuck in implementation.

Mini Intro to Restorative Practices

This 30-minute overview gives interested parties a quick overview of the importance of Restorative Practices in schools and communities. Ideal for PTA/parent meetings and staff orientations.


This foundation is a first step toward training students to be ambassadors of Restorative Practice in their schools. Through a broad overview of RP and with some practical skills building exercises and interactive discussions, participants will come away with a strong foundation and understanding that RP is a mindset and a new way of thinking through conflict with their peers.

How Does the Conflict Center Approach Restorative Practices?

The Conflict Center employs our unique Five Strategy approach to Restorative Practices which focuses on building Restorative Practices skills within a school and intentionally shaping the internal culture–shifting from traditional, punitive discipline to a restorative practice approach.


Our consensus-based assessment tool allows us to understand the infrastructure, leadership, culture and protocols unique to each school and assess readiness for implementation of Restorative Practices.


With insight from the assessment data, we create a tailored road map, identifying the school’s assets, needs and priorities to move forward with successful Restorative Practices implementation.


Our three standard trainings cover 1)Restorative Practices basics and foundations, 2) Restorative Practices circle processes and facilitation techniques, and 3) formal conferences to create a meaningfully sustainable Restorative Practices culture within the school.


We work alongside and empower identified staff to link Restorative Practices to the goals of the school through a process of creating a vision, overcoming roadblocks and developing new skills.


The overall focus of our approach is to build capacity. We work with school leaders to maintain and institutionalize Restorative Practices by integrating its practices into the classroom, discipline system, school policies and overall school culture.

To inquire about the opportunity of bringing Restorative Practices to your Colorado school, please contact the Restorative Practices Coordinator at 303.865.5624.

Restorative Practices concepts and practices have been used to build community and resolve conflict in indigenous cultures, including the Maori people of New Zealand, Native American tribes in the U.S., the Mayan people of Guatemala, and many others for thousands of years. Modern Western communities are beginning to call on these age-old practices as a new process to build strong and safe communities and resolve conflict through face to face interactions. In the 1970s the criminal justice system and K-12 schools in the United States began to use Restorative Practices to address community and school climate and offenses.

Restorative Practices are rooted in the principle that everyone has the capacity to build relationships and resolve conflict restoratively with training, practice, support, and time. Therefore, anyone can benefit from learning about
Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices are non–denominational and inclusive of all identities. Teachers, students, and school administrators can use Restorative Practices on campus. Restorative Practices are employed within the criminal justice system by police officers, probation, public defenders, district attorneys, and judges. We can use a restorative approach with our families, neighbors, and colleagues.

Restorative Practices are about creating stronger communities and cultivating relationships. Within schools, Restorative Practices has been successful in helping youth and adults communicate more effectively, minimizing student truancy, reducing school conflict, and lowering suspension and expulsion rates. Lower rates of suspensions and expulsions have also been found to increase the academic scores of non-suspended students. Additionally, students that go to schools with lower suspension rates have higher end of year math and English scores.

Restorative Justice (RJ), began in the criminal justice system and is an approach to problem-solving that is based around three basic concepts:

  • That when crime (or wrongdoing) occurs, the focus is on the harm that has been done to people and relationships
  • When harm has been done, it creates obligations and liabilities
  • The way forward involves wrongdoers, victims and the community in efforts to heal the harm and put things right

Restorative practices (RP) is a social science that studies, that has built upon the philosophy of Restorative Justice and includes a range of fields outside of the criminal justice system. RP is used to improve and repair relationships between people and communities. The purpose is to build healthy communities, increase social capital, decrease crime and antisocial behavior, repair harm and restore relationships

Restorative Practices is often used interchangeably with Restorative Justice.

The term community, as used in Restorative Practices, is not limited to a physical or geographic region.  Rather, it is defined as members who have been directly or indirectly impacted by harm.  In an education context, community may include:

  • Family members
  • Students
  • Key support staff (administrators, teachers, counselors, coaches, etc…)
  • Mentors
  • Significant others for each party who have been impacted by the offense

Restorative Practices Program statistics and information are drawn from the following resources:

Ashley, J., & Burke, K. (2009). Implementing restorative justice: A guide for schools. Chicago, IL: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Armour, M. (2013).

Ed White Middle School restorative discipline evaluation: Implementation and impact, 2012/2013 sixth grade. Austin: University of Texas, Austin. Baker, M. L., Sigmon, J. N., & Nugent, M. E. (2001).

Truancy reduction: Keeping students in school (electronic version). Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Available from http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=student-absenteeism#_edn4 Baker, M. (2009). DPS Restorative Justice Project: Year three. Denver, CO: Denver Public Schools.

Blood, P. (2005, August). The Australian context: Restorative practices as a platform for cultural change in schools. Paper presented at the XIV World Congress of Criminology, Philadelphia, PA.

Dinkes, R., Kemp, J., & Baum, K. (2009). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2008 (NCES 2009- 022/NCJ 226343). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Fabelo, T., Thompson, M. D., Plotkin, M., Carmichael, D., Marchbanks, M. P., III, & Booth, E. A. (2011). Breaking schools’ rules: A statewide study of how school discipline relates to students’ success and juvenile justice involvement. New York: Council of State Governments.

Guckenburg, S., Hurley, N., Persson, H., Fronius, T., & Petrosino, A. (2015). Restorative justice in U.S. schools: Summary findings from interviews with experts. San Francisco: WestEd. Available from http://jprc.wested.org/new-report-restorative-justice-in-u-s-schools-summary-findings/

Hopkins, B. (2002). Restorative justice in schools. Support for Learning, 17(3), 144–149

Lewis, S. (2009). Improving school climate: Findings from schools implementing restorative practices. Bethlehem, PA: International Institute for Restorative Practices.

Norris, A. (2009). Gender and race effects of a restorative justice intervention on school success (Conference papers). American Society of Criminology,

Schiff, M. (2013). Dignity, disparity and desistance: Effective restorative justice strategies to plug the school-to-prison pipeline. Boca Raton: Florida Atlantic University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Schiff, M., & Bazemore, G. (2012). Whose kids are these? Juvenile justice and education partnerships using restorative justice to end the school-to-prison pipeline. In National leadership summit on school-justice partnerships: Keeping kids in school and out of courts (pp. 68–82). New York: New York State Permanent Commission on Justice for Children.

Sherman, L. W., & Strang, H. (2007). Restorative justice: The evidence. London: Smith Institute.

Sumner, D., Silverman, C., & Frampton, M. (2010). School-based restorative justice as an alternative to zero-tolerance policies: Lessons from West Oakland. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

Zehr, H. (2002). The little book of restorative justice. Intercourse, PA: Good Books

  • Initial connection
  • Short pre-evaluation with all staff
  • In-Person Facilitated Assessment so we can tailor a plan for your community
  • Recommendations and roadmap
  • Post evaluation for RP team every few months
  • Post eval for all staff once a year (Post assessment doesn’t happen until 6 months post-training.)