Our approach to law enforcement and discipline in our schools has resulted in the incarceration of millions of Americans and the creation of a school-to-prison pipeline. What if there was a better way?
As Chairperson of the Ulster County Human Rights Commission, Dave Clegg has been working hard for thirty years to change the way Kingston approaches discipline and punishment; the priority is to end the school-to-prison pipeline and help all children, especially the most disadvantaged, get through school. The answer, Clegg firmly believes, is restorative justice. He is running for Congress in the 19th District because he believes that this approach could save thousands of lives each year if implemented at the national level.
What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice, as opposed to punitive justice, focuses on bringing the community together to help the offender make amends and get the help that they need. It is a process of reconciliation that involves offenders, victims, families, school officials, and community members. The results can be transformational, putting a young life on a better path.
It is not easy to undo the damage of Reagan’s zero-tolerance rules. These rules employed exclusionary disciplinary actions like suspension and expulsion. The impact fell hard on people of color, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues, and people with backgrounds of poverty.
It harms our community if people don't make it through school. A student who's been thrown out of the school district at 15 or 16 is much more likely to end up in prison than one who remains in the school system. We need to halt the school-to-prison pipeline.