Marquette Celebrates Restorative Justice Week
Released: Nov. 9, 2005
MILWAUKEE – Under the direction of Janine Geske, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and distinguished professor of law, the Marquette Law School founded the Restorative Justice Initiative in 2004 to create a resource for victims, communities, and organizations; a restorative justice clinical experience for law students; and a program promoting scholarship, research and dialogue. This year for the second time, the Initiative commemorates Restorative Justice Week with activities that examine the process and benefits of these restorative practices.
Restorative justice is a victim-centered response to crime that focuses on the harm caused by offenders, as well as the need for healing of victims and community, while requiring the offenders to take responsibility for their actions. It views criminal acts more comprehensively than the judicial system because it recognizes how offenders harm victims, communities, and even themselves by their actions.
“Many different people and entities are harmed by a criminal act,” says Geske. “It is often easy for an offender to dehumanize their particular victim but also not to appreciate the harm he or she has caused. Offenders need to appreciate the level of harm they have caused and take responsibility for their actions.”
Restorative Justice Week
All events are free and open to the public.
Monday, Nov. 14
The Marquette Law School presents Restorative Justice Movie Night. The Restorative Justice Initiative will screen short films about the restorative justice process and specifically, the work of the Marquette program at the Green Bay Correctional Institution. A talkback session with Professor Janine Geske will follow.
7 p.m., Room 307 of the Law School, 1103 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Tuesday, Nov. 15
Dr. Mark Umbreit, the 2005 Marquette Law School visiting Boden professor, will lead The Art of Restorative Justice Dialogue, a training seminar for those who would like to know more about how restorative justice and the peacemaking process work, as well as those who wish to augment earlier meditation training.
6:30 p.m., Eisenberg Memorial Hall in the Law School, 1103 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Wednesday, Nov. 16
Umbreit will present the keynote lecture, Restorative Justice in the 21st Century: A Social Movement Full of Opportunities and Pitfalls. In addition to his position as the Marquette Law School visiting Boden Professor, Umbreit is a professor and the founding director of the Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. He also serves on the faculty of the Center for Spirituality and Healing in the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center. A reception will immediately follow the lecture.
4:30 p.m., Weasler Auditorium, 1506 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Thursday, Nov. 17
Victims who have benefited from restorative justice, restorative justice practitioners and students will meet to discuss their experiences in the program over a brown bag lunch.
12:15 p.m., Rooms 204, 210 and 245 in the Law School. 1103 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Marquette’s Offender/Victim Program
Geske and her law students facilitate two distinct forms of restorative justice models: individual, face-to-face meetings between victims and their offenders, and three-day group sessions for prisoners and victims at the maximum security prison for men in Green Bay, Wis.
The adversarial justice system prohibits communication between victims and offenders, Geske says, and the families of victims often get angry and frustrated as the criminal case plays out. In such cases where victims want to talk to the offender, restorative justice programming can have an astounding impact.
The three-day sessions at the prison take a different approach. These sessions are part of a semester-long course offered to prisoners called Challenges and Possibilities. Over the course of three days, prisoners take an in-depth look at the ripple effects of crime, examine how crime has affected lives of many people, work with crime victims, and explore ways to try to restore the harm.
“Victims talk about the profound impact that all this has on them,” Geske says.
“It’s pretty darn unusual in a maximum security prison to be allowed to share the depth of emotion we see,” notes prison teacher Ginny Vanden Branden. “And it’s due to Janine’s ability to convey a sense of safety and trust.”
As a result of these experiences and conversations, the offenders start thinking about their victims in a whole new light, and many start truly taking on responsibility for the harm that they have caused others.
For more information on the Restorative Justice Initiative or any of these events, please contact Anne Broeker in the Office of Marketing and Communication at 414.288.6712.
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