The mission of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice is to raise awareness of social injustices, while engaging in action-oriented projects that lead to progressive social change.
The Mansfield Institute at Roosevelt University is committed to programing that will raise awareness of the political, economic, and racial context of injustices to promote social change. The Institute is committed to supporting students, faculty and community organizations through research, activism, and advocacy.
Scholar Activist Work
Challenging VOYRA (Violent Offenders Youth Registry Act) (Fall 2018 – present):
In Illinois, children charged with Aggravated Battery as a result of a fight or some other altercation, can be placed on a registry for 10 years beginning at the age of 17. In short, a child could be involved in a fight at the age of 13 and then be be placed on this public registry until the age 27. Mansfield Scholars are working toward changing the law that creates this undue hardship on, primarily young Black teens from Chicago.
Challenging DNA collection for Juveniles
In Illinois, the courts collect DNA samples from youth adjudicated delinquent. While juvenile records are expunged, the DNA is held by the State for a lifetime. Mansfield Scholars are working toward ending the collecting of youth DNA.
Special Education Advocacy (Fall 2017 – present):
In Chicago, Latinx students make up 47 percent of the Chicago Public Schools’ student population, making them the largest demographic group. Yet, out of more than 52,000 students receiving special education (SPED) services, about 21,000 students live in homes where English is not the native language. Parents/guardians may be unable to understand what is being said at important meetings regarding a student’s education or Individualized Education Program, affecting the educational experience of a student with disabilities. The Mansfield Institute is committed to help raise awareness around disabilities by training surrogate parent advocates, help identify factors that may hinder parental/guardian advocacy, as well as gaps that already exist in the education system that place students with disabilities at a disadvantage.
There are many flaws in all levels of our justice system. One shortcoming exists with cases that have been court diverted and put on informal supervision. This means that these cases will not go in front of a judge and youth must plead guilty; in return they are kept out of the Juvenile Detention Center and must check in with a probation officer regularly. Youth at this level of the juvenile justice system receive no special education services (SPED) that may help them avoid future run ins with law enforcement. Special education services can make the difference between a youth staying in school and a youth entering the criminal justice system.
The Mansfield Institute recognizes this problem and has established a special education advocacy office in the Juvenile Detention Center, where in partnership with probation officers and a retired CPS principal, youth receive services to which they are entitled. Working closely with youth and their families, SPED services are explained to families and if mutually agreed upon, the SPED services are initiated immediately on site. Afterwards, SPED advocates follow up with families until services are put in place.
Restorative Justice Community Court in Chicago.
Restorative justice emphasizes the way crime harms relationships and communities, bringing together those most impacted by conflict and ‘crime’ to resolve it. Under the model, defendants take accountability for their actions and work to repair harm they have caused through restitution, community service, letters of apology, and peace circles.
Restorative Justice in Schools: Whole School Approach
Restorative Justice and Disability: Universal Design