Maisha Winn occupies the Cellmer Endowed Chair in English Education and is a professor of Language and Literacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From her recent research on literacy and the experiences of youth in schools and detention centers, Winn came to appreciate the importance of restorative justice. Restorative justice focuses on raising workers’ awareness of how punitive or exclusionary practices may be harmful to youth outcomes, whereas alternative approaches may promote healthier relationships and foster learning. The challenge is how to shift an organization’s culture to value and practice such an approach. Winn will spend the first six months of her award at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) in Oakland California, which recently launched a large-scale restorative justice project. There, she will work full-time with the project director as they roll-out and provide technical assistance for an initiative to train school, prison, police, and court personnel in restorative justice. Upon returning to the University of Wisconsin, Winn will spend time at a restorative justice program at the local YMCA. Winn anticipates that her Fellowship will allow her to model the benefit of rich engagement with youth settings and inform new research on restorative justice. The Fellowship will also inform her efforts to create restorative justice pre-service training modules for middle and high school teachers.
The goal of this project is to better understand the challenges organizations face when initiating restorative justice initiatives.