Lawyer Magazine_Winter 2020


participants], my assumptions and expectations were challenged,” Hampson said. “I thought about separating the individual from the offense and focused on the ways in which restorative justice provided a pathway back into the community.” Shea said that he and Griffith are immersing students in an intensive experience of what restorative justice is. IMPORTANT FOR TODAY’S SOCIETY One aspect of restorative justice that students in the course experience is a healing circle, a Native American tradition. With this restorative justice practice, people sit in a circle and only one person speaks at a time – the person who has the talking piece. “For some victim-survivors, [a healing circle] is the very first time they have had a chance to tell their story about what this crime, what this offense did to them, their families and their futures,” Shea said. “It is a gripping experience for those who have not gone through it before.” With the issues today such as racial injustice, Griffith hopes that the restorative justice process could be used. “[Using restorative justice], people of color would have an opportunity to talk about how racial injustice has affected them,” he said. “I don’t know of a process and instrument that is more potentially effective to bring truth, healing and justice to really complex and challenging societal issues. It is tailor-made, because it’s relational, it’s respectful, it fosters healing, it’s rooted in a rich sense of justice, it fosters accountability and it invites people to tell their story.” Both Griffith and Shea cautioned, however, that restorative justice isn’t a panacea. It aligns with the School of Law’s mission, vision and values as well as Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic social thought, and has tremendous potential. Perhaps, thanks to Griffith and Shea’s course, a new generation of legal professionals can make the Midwest one of the nation’s centers for restorative justice.

Attorney John Choi that they should look at restorative justice as part of the solution. Before his meeting with Hebda, Shea did a national search to determine who was needed in the Twin Cities, and Geske was the person everyone recommended. Restorative justice was so important to Geske that she had given up her seat on the court during the middle of her term to start the Marquette University Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative. Restorative justice ended up being a component of the archdiocese’s civil agreement with Ramsey County. “She has become absolutely critical to the progress that this archdiocese has made in becoming more victim-survivor focused and centered,” Shea said. AN EVOLVING COURSE Griffith was the one who suggested to Shea to expand Crime and Punishment to include restorative justice; for the last two fall semesters the course name changed to Crime, Punishment and Restorative Justice. While Shea may teach Crime and Punishment again separately, restorative justice is the sole focus of Restorative Justice, Law and Healing. Third-year law student Rachel Hampson , one of the students in the course, was drawn to Restorative Justice, Law and Healing because she thinks that the U.S. criminal justice system isn’t working. “I believe there is another way and I wanted to learn from experts in the field who are designing and promoting sustainable and effective alternatives to traditional retributive models,” she said. “I’ve participated and observed veterans treatment courts. I observed firsthand the incredible transformation and healing that can occur when you surround an individual with community support and accountability. I was curious to learn more about the restorative justice field and examine its other applications.” The course has many guest speakers, including Geske, former offenders, The Circle of Peace Movement co- founder Russel Balenger, county attorneys, archdiocese staffers, restorative justice facilitator and consultant Sylvia Gutierrez, and more.

“When I heard stories [from former offenders and restorative justice

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