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Function-Based Restorative Justice Practices for Client Harm Reduction

  • ABAI Conference San Diego, CA (map)

Workshop Description:

When encountering a crisis situation, helping professionals may have legal and ethical responsibilities that seem to be in conflict with one another. For many helping professionals some degree of mandated reporting exists as a part of their professions’ ethical guidelines, and many places of employment have crisis policies in place that involve calling the police. For many individuals in crisis, this situational vulnerability makes calling the police a dangerous practice. In the United States, an estimated one third to one half of people killed in police shootings have had physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities (Perry & Carter-Long, 2016), and the intersections of clients’ identities may heighten this danger. Additionally, according to U. S. Department of Education data from 2014, students with disabilities are nearly three times as likely to be arrested or referred to law enforcement while at school than are their peers without disabilities. Punitive measures including and up to the involvement of law enforcement often do not account for behavior function, and do not focus on habilitation or training functional replacement behaviors. Function based restorative justice practices can be one meaningful way to reduce harm to clients in situations of crisis. This workshop will provide an overview of restorative justice practices, and will examine ways in which helping professionals can incorporate alternate interventions and strategies in moments of crisis to reduce risks and benefit their clients as much as possible. Empirically supported literature and data will be presented where applicable and available, and audience questions and discussion will be welcomed throughout the workshop.


Learning Objectives:

After attending this intermediate-level workshop, participants will be able to:

(1) State the key components of behavior escalation and best practices for intervention
(2) Describe the costs and risks of punitive crisis intervention practices
(3) Discriminate between different restorative justice practices
(4) State the critical components of engaging in restorative justice practices
(5) Apply strategies from restorative justice models to reduce client harm in a case study