SOL Lawyer Magazine_Fall 2021



Lawyers have the potential to facilitate healing, build bridges and bring about a more just and inclusive society when they utilize restorative justice practices within our courts and communities. This is the driving idea behind the new Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH) at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, that officially launched on Sept. 8. Restorative justice is a worldwide movement that began in the 1970s. Its concepts have been successfully used in a variety of settings and professions, including education and law. It seeks to respond to harm, and in some cases a crime, in ways that lead to healing and reconciliation. The approach creates outlets for victims to share the impact of a perpetrator’s actions and for those who have caused harm to understand and accept responsibility for their behavior. These opportunities do not always exist within the criminal justice system, which focuses primarily on

punishment for offenders, without addressing the emotional repair that is needed by all parties. The IRJH will focus on educating law students and the legal community about restorative justice to provide them with tools they can use as an alternative or complement to traditional punitive systems. It will also foster dialogue and promote healing in the community, specifically around racial injustice, clergy sexual abuse and societal polarization. Law professor Father Daniel Griffith (pictured) will serve as the director of the IRJH. Julie Craven is the initiative’s associate director. Law Professor Hank Shea and Associate Professor of Theology Amy Levad will serve as fellows. “I am excited about the nexus between the focus of the Initiative on Restorative Justice, the mission of St. Thomas Law and the formation of lawyers who can serve and accompany their clients with compassion and empathy,” Griffith said.

Fall 2021 Page 9

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