AMOS Reduces Juvenile Suspensions, Expulsions, Arrests

Thanks to persistent intervention by AMOS leaders, Polk County school officials and law enforcement appear to be keeping more children and older minors out of court.

Between 2011 and 2015, suspensions and expulsions dropped by nearly 64% and suspensions for school attendance issues dropped by 91%. Arrests of minors by city police dropped by 32%, with a 21% reduction in the arrests of African American youth.

Progress took careful work with Polk County Courts in pursuit of more widespread use of restorative justice practices. Public engagement got tense at times, in particular three years ago when AMOS pointed out remarkably higher arrest rates of African American youth.

Progress in schools is largely credited to AMOS' "Let's Talk" program to which administrators and teachers refer youth in danger of suspension. The program currently operates in six Des Moines middle schools and involves a team of adults working with youth to resolve conflict and develop alternative approaches to conflict.

Says Organizer Liz Hall, "At Hiatt Middle School, Let's Talk team leaders have trained all the teachers and administrators in restorative justice circles and facilitated circles with the entire student body." At Meredith Middle School, there has been "a dramatic drop in out-of-school suspensions" in just three years."

In photo is AMOS leader Rev. Dr. Brigette Black.

Editorial: Common Sense Prevails on Punishing Juveniles, Des Moines Register

AMOS Helps Juvenile Offenders Keep a Clean Record, Des Moines Register