The 14 involved in the May 1-2 vandalism and homophobic graffiti at Arlington High School have all agreed to restorative justice instead of facing charges.
Chief Fred Ryan has told YourArlington that the 14 offenders "have indicated a desire to participate with RJ. If any offender fails to complete the RJ process, criminal complaints for the relevant charges will be sought in a court of proper jurisdiction."
In an email May 26, Ryan noted that the "restorative justice process is unfolding, and it will take many months to complete."
Unlike the traditional criminal-justice process for first-time offenders, Ryan called the restorative process "lengthy and deliberative."
Meanwhile, Matthew Janger, principal at Arlington High, was asked how many of the 14 are seniors, and, of these, how many did he expect to be present for graduation ceremonies, which are Saturday, June 2.
He commented May 30: "Giving a breakdown of grade-levels and ages would set up a situation where we are helping to identify particular students. While this may become public through the legal process, we have to maintain student privacy."
None of accused at graduation
He pointed to a statement he had sent following the vandalism:
"In response to news reports, many have had the impression of hate-speech that was more widespread or located inside the school. It has become clear that the hate-speech was the act of only a few students and took place separately from the larger group.
"The damage was also limited to a smaller number of students. This does not minimize the hurtfulness of the language or the shared responsibility for the damage and impact, but it does correct the impression that the hate-speech was the work of a large group of students."
He added these comments May 30: "I want to clarify that most of the students were unaware of the graffiti. No student who damaged the building or participated in hate speech will be allowed to participate in graduation. All of the students have come forward, admitted to their actions, and agreed to participate in restorative justice.
"I am proud that our community has reacted so strongly to oppose hateful speech. I am also proud that our community has come together to support restorative justice. We were proud to work with the Human Rights Commission, the LGBTQIA Rainbow Commission, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Arlington Police Department to guide our response.
"This process will take time given the number of students, the timing, and the widespread impact, but I am confident that we will emerge stronger as a result."
Arlington a leader in restorative justice
Arlington is a founding member of the organization Communities for Restorative Justice, a nonprofit collaboration of communities and police departments that offers restorative justice to those affected by crime. The organization’s “circle” process recognizes that crime is a violation of people and relationships, not just a violation of law. Newly passed legislation on Beacon Hill expands the restorative justice model and authorizes its use to deal with certain cases.
The restorative justice process has three phases:
-- Victims of crime are given the opportunity to address those who have harmed them, to ask questions in a safe environment, and to share ideas on ways that the harm can be repaired.
-- Offenders better understand the impact of their actions, are held accountable, make financial restitution and encouraged to make amends to those they have harmed.
-- The community offers support for the process, strengthening community connections, and engaging in matters of concern to its members.
Most importantly, restorative justice requires buy-in from both the offenders and the victims in a given situation. The offenders would be working directly with members of the school community, Jewish community, and LGBTQIA+ community on a long-term process.
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This news summary was published Wednesday, May 30, 2018.
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