The Power U Center for Social Change, a grassroots organization, has been working with low-income Black and Latino youth to develop a campaign around ending the schoolhouse to jailhouse track in Miami, Florida. The goals for this campaign include:

  • Lowering suspension, expulsion, and arrest rates and increasing retention rates among all students, particularly students of color;
  • Securing quality restorative justice programs that are heavily utilized in all schools with the district;
  • Creating and/or supporting measures to accurately and effectively assess discipline data and the effects of restorative justice programming;
  • Decreasing the amount of money the district spends on its police force;
  • Politically educating youth so that they have the ability to change the power dynamic within schools; and
  • Establishing a curriculum and culture within schools that empowers students.

Power U youth created and distributed surveys to fellow classmates to learn more about how the schools to jails track was affecting them. Using publicly available data and stories obtained from the surveys, youth created presentations documenting the schools to jails track and began asking for reform. Youth also organized community forums to educate other youth about alternative discipline and gain their support. In October 2007, Power U presented at the school board meeting, asking for the inclusion of restorative justice as an alternative disciplinary measure. The board agreed to conduct a feasibility study within 30 days, but ultimately delayed these efforts.

On February 29, 2008, at Miami Edison High School, a peaceful student protest resulted in a lockdown of the school by police and numerous student arrests. America witnessed the startling scene, as the incident was broadcast on national television. Outraged by the incident and frustrated that the feasibility study on restorative justice had not yet been produced, Power U held a rally at the school police building in March 2008. The city ultimately released the study a few weeks later applauding the effects of restorative justice, but the school board claimed that the district lacked funding to support it. At a school board meeting in August 2008, Power U proposed the implementation of restorative justice as a pilot program at Booker T. Washington High. The school board has not yet taken action.

Power U is currently further developing its relationships with teachers and forming alliances with youth organizations and service providers around the region to grow their base. Through these relationships, youth present on restorative justice to students in individual classes and to youth in other groups. Power U youth will continue to organize and employ other strategies as needed until their goals are achieved.


Youth Commitment Card

Presentation to the school board and other groups

For more information, contact:

Julia Daniel or Travae Brown
Youth Organizers
Power U Center for Social Change
164 NW 20th St. #104
Miami, FL 33127
[email protected] or [email protected]