Restorative Justice & Youth Issues

The Service-Learning Program is working with two fantastic partners at both ends of the continuum of issues related to school drop-out and "push out" and juvenile justice. Both of these partnerships address the School to Prison Pipeline and provide important opportunities for our students to learn more about educational and justice system policies and put restorative practices into action.

San Quentin Kid C.A.T.

Dominican has a unique opportunity to partner with a group of San Quentin inmates who were incarcerated as teens, have grown up in prison, and founded Kid C.A.T. (Creating Awareness Together).

Kid C.A.T’s mission “to inspire humanity through education, mentorship, and restorative practices” resonates with the Service-Learning Program’s focus on educational equity and youth justice and provide a compelling message for all stakeholders in social change education. Kid C.A.T. members identified homelessness as a common denominator in their young lives and initiated the Hygiene Drive for Bay Area Homeless Youth.  The group started the drive inside San Quentin and working in collaboration with Dominican and other institutions was able to donate over 400 hygiene kits this past year to youth serving organizations in San Francisco. Dominican will support the group’s plan to continue to “scale up” the hygiene drive. Giulia Welch's Fall 2014 leadership class continued outreach with local high schools, helping them learn more about the issue of youth homelessness and implement the hygiene drive themselves. The hygiene drive will continue on our campus in Spring 2015.

To learn more about Kid C.A.T. visit their facebook page and read their newsletter "The Road" here.

YMCA Youth Court & School Peer Court Restorative Justice Programs

YMCA Youth Court is a Diversion Program designed to help at risk teens and their families through a challenging time with the Restorative Justice approach to assist families with a positive experience. Youth Court is designed to educate youth about the juvenile justice system. Through direct participation, Youth Court addresses each juvenile's responsibility for his or her behavior and holds them accountable to their community and peers. Dominican service-learning students have the opportunity to become case workers to support individual youth in completing the restorative program determined by a jury of their Peers.

"The Peer Court program that the YMCA was proposing as our service-learning project was mainly implemented by young offenders, a fact that I hard time believing could be functional and effective in the struggle for youth advocacy. It was not until the coordinators of Peer Court, Don Carney and Ally Fabian explained the background of Peer Court that I began to realize how close minded I was. When you go through Peer Court you start off as the one on trial, then you are given jury hours which allows you to serve on the court and assist in another person’s trial. I realized that I had been a juror long before I had even heard of Peer Court." Dominican student, Spring CLQ 3380/81

"In the beginning of the semester, I was not aware of the classroom content or curriculum. All I knew was that it dealt with social change and that it was a service learning course. As the semester went forward, I learned that it was much more than that. As a person who had friends that went through the judicial system, I thought I knew everything about it. As anyone else who has not studied the judicial system in depth, I learned of missing voids." - Dominican student, Spring CLQ 3380/81

YMCA Youth Court has now expanded its programming to include Peer Court which is currently implemented in numerous middle and high schools in Marin County. The ultimate goal of implementing restorative practices in schools is to reduce school "push out" through suspension and expulsion which a recent federal report shows disproportionately impacts youth of color in the U.S. San Francisco school district implemented new policies this year regarding the use of restorative practices and other interventions. A June 2014 report shows significant improvement. African-American and Latino student suspensions were decreased by 50 percent during the last school year. To read more about peer court go here. Partnering with Peer Court, our students are able to experience a practice in which young people are empowered and encouraged to discover their own voice and agency.