This Independent Study explores and examines restorative justice as a policy reform effort made by schools, specifically in New York City, to address a phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline. While it has been found that zero tolerance policies fuel this pipeline through the criminalization of minor infractions, this study argues that using restorative justice policies to manage disciplinary matters within schools creates an avenue to dismantle this pipeline. This occurs through establishing a more inclusive school climate, thus leading to lower levels of punitive discipline and school push out, which ultimately lessens the rate at which youth come into contact with the juvenile/criminal justice system. Utilizing a case study methodology that combines a historical narrative with semi-structured interviews done with providers of restorative justice policies and practices in New York City public schools, this study seeks to understand the impacts of both zero tolerance policies and restorative justice policies on this criminalization of students. When examining the interpretive causal impacts of both sets of policies, this study found support for the theoretical argument in that in New York City, utilizing restorative justice policies and practices to manage disciplinary matters can trigger a series of events that builds a more inclusive school climate, decreases the level of punitive discipline, lessens the rate at which students experience school push out, and ultimately decreases contact with the juvenile/criminal justice system. This study also uncovers several components and impacts of restorative justice policies not found in the literature, as well as evidence of zero tolerance and restorative justice policies being used in conjunction with each other to address conflicts within schools.


Moskowitz, Eric


Political Science


Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Restorative Justice, Zero Tolerance, School-to-Prison Pipeline, School Climate, School Discipline, Disciplinary Policy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2018 Leigh T. Yartz