Richmond, CA — In a restorative justice move this week, Judge Thomas M. Maddock of the Juvenile Division of Contra Costa County Superior Court affirmed reconciliation in place of charges for transgender student Jewlyes Gutierrez.
A student of Hercules High, Ms. Gutierrez was charged with misdemeanor battery after an altercation between her and several other students was caught on video in November, 2013.
The subject of persistent harassment and intimidation at school, Ms. Gutierrez had sought intervention and support from Hercules High staff with no success prior to the altercation.
Transgender Law Center partnered with local organizations, including RYSE Youth Center (RYSE) and Rainbow Community Center, to rally community support in response to the charge against Ms. Gutierrez, recognizing the critical opportunity to partner with the District Attorney’s Office, West Contra Costa Unified School District, the individual students, and the broader community in a restorative, healing, and community-building process. As a result, Gutierrez entered an agreement with the court to have her case reevaluated upon the completion of a restorative justice program conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD).
After reviewing the case on May 1, 2014, Judge Thomas M. Maddock dropped the charge in recognition of Gutierrez’s successful completion of the restorative justice program.
With a federal mandate looming over West Contra Costa Unified School District to address a severe and pervasive culture of unchecked harassment and bullying, a dropped charge in favor of a restorative process offers a concrete and effective approach that can be applied districtwide.
Organizations such as the RYSE and Rainbow Community Center, where Gutierrez received services and support, employ and advocate restorative justice practices precisely for the results produced in this case – which facilitate individual and community healing and accountability, and work to protect young people of color, who have the highest inequitable rates of contact, from entry and engagement in the juvenile justice system.
Transgender Law Center, RYSE, and Rainbow Community Center are grateful for the willingness and efforts of the students and participating stakeholders to engage in a restorative process and come to peaceful resolution.
Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.
RYSE Youth Center creates safe spaces grounded in social justice that build youth power for young people to love, larn, educate, heal, and transform lives and communities.
Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County builds community and promotes well-being among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) people and our allies.