Lawyer Magazine_Winter 2020



Restorative justice, an alternative approach to dealing with harm, is taking hold at the school of law in the form of a new class.

School of Law Professors Father Daniel Griffith, left, and Hank Shea, right, pose for a portrait with Janine Geske, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice. Photo by Mark Brown.

The course, titled Restorative Justice, Law and Healing, is taught by Wenger Family Fellow of Law Father Daniel Griffith and School of Law Senior Distinguished Fellow and Fellow of the Holloran Center Hank Shea . Restorative justice was the topic of the St. Thomas Law Journal’s fall 2019 symposium, which Shea and Griffith helped organize. Shea helped attendees understand restorative justice in his opening talk at the event. “Put aside most people’s traditional notions of punishment, which is generally about retribution – giving the wrongdoer what he or she deserves. Put that aside and open up your minds and your hearts to a different way of looking at how we should deal with wrongdoing in our society,” Shea said at the symposium. “How do we do something for the victim- survivor, for the wrongdoer, for the community – which are all impacted by so many criminal actions? And what we do is we find out what they really need, what can help them heal – and that’s the way you can achieve justice in a restorative manner.”

That event featured a who’s who of restorative justice leaders in the Midwest. In addition to Shea, the symposium also featured Griffith, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge Janine Geske and Director of the Center on Race, Leadership and Social Justice at the School of Law Artika Tyner ’06 J.D., ’10MA, ’12 EdD. A RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PRIMER In explaining restorative justice at the symposium, Geske said, “[Restorative justice] is really a philosophical approach to dealing with harm. It’s that broad. People can be harmed by something that isn’t criminal. The only thing that makes a crime is that the legislature has decided to make it a crime.” Geske described the restorative justice framework as a triangle. At the top of the triangle are victim-survivors; the focus on the victim is what makes restorative justice different from the U.S. criminal justice system. The second point of the triangle is community – people and institutions who are harmed but may not specifically know the victim. The perpetrator, who put into motion the harm, is the third point in the triangle.

Winter 2020 Page 19

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