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The government goes back and forth all the time
on the topic of punishment, which is between a rehabilitation system and a
punitive system. There are some that want it to become a rehabilitation system,
but because of the way the criminal justice system is in the United States, a punitive
system always wins. This topic has finally been coming to light in the
education system the last few years. A big issue that schools in the United
States face is how to deal with student misconduct. Currently in the United
State, misconduct is treated in punitive ways. The existing policy in schools
all over the United States is zero tolerance. This way is not beneficial for
all the parties involved because it leads to more students being suspended or
expelled from school. Suspensions and expulsions have negative affects on
students which can include: decline in academics, fighting, using drugs,
joining gangs, and even dropping out of school. Some schools are starting to go
away from the punitive approach to restorative justice. Instead of just
focusing on the punishment for an individual of school misconduct, restorative
justice is a process of healing through the use of non-punitive strategies to
right wrongs and restore the peace. Restorative justice philosophies places an
emphasis on student accountability, repairing harm done, respect for others,
and restoration of the school community. It also allows the victims voice to be
heard by bringing together the victim and those affected, the student who
created the misconduct, and teachers. Restorative justice acknowledges the act
was harmful and builds support for both the offender and the victim. It gives
them the chance to tell their viewpoints of the incident and lets them work
together to repair the harm done. This paper will further explore the idea of
restorative justice in school through critical theory models, the American
justice system over the last 150 years, and how restorative justice can help
find a solution of racial, gender, class inequalities.

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