Conference Highlights Positive Power of Reconciliation

10/24/2001

BOSTON -- Restorative justice, a social movement to institutionalize peaceful resolutions to criminal and human rights violations, is the subject of a conference co-sponsored by Suffolk University from Thursday, Oct. 25 through Saturday, Oct. 27. "Transforming Justice: Restorative Practices in New England," will be held at Suffolk University and the Old South Meeting House.

The conference schedule is as follows: Thursday, October 25, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Old South Meeting House (310 Washington Street, Boston); Friday, October 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, Suffolk University Law School (120 Tremont Street, Boston, First Floor Function Room); and Saturday, October 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Suffolk University Law School (120 Tremont Street, Boston, First Floor Function Room).

The growth of the restorative justice social movement in New England is evidenced by participation in this conference, which will be made up primarily of New England practitioners of restorative justice. The first conference sponsored by the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University, and the nine schools of the Boston Theological Institute (BTI) in 1997 brought in outside panelists and participates to begin spreading the word about restorative justice to the region.

Highlights of the conference will include:

  • Discussion of how the principles of restorative justice can form a constructive response to the events of Sept. 11. "A desire to hurt so deeply reflects a caring equally deep . . ." writes Kay Pranis, restorative justice planner with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, who will be panelist Oct. 27.
  • First Justice Thomas T. Merrigan of the District Court in Orange, Mass., will receive the Achievement in Restorative Justice Award for his efforts to improve the administration of justice by inviting public participation in the process. The Franklin County Futures Lab Project he initiated has been adapted by other courts throughout Massachusetts as Reinventing Justice programs.
  • Victims and offenders will discuss how participation in restorative justice projects has changed their perspective on the crimes that affected them, offering healing to the victims and a sense of responsibility and power to amend their actions to the perpetrators.

An array of restorative justice practitioners, including probation officers, prison workers and former inmates, law enforcement personnel, lawyers and ministers, social workers, teachers, students and others will participate

The conference seeks to connect practitioners and activists with others interested in putting restorative principles into action toward community healing.

Panelists and workshop leaders include local people involved in restorative justice work, the former Head Probation Officer from Belfast, Northern Ireland, a school principal from South Africa and others.

A special panel on "Reconciliation Among Ethnic Groups" will pair local and international people, including representatives of the United Nations Durban Conference on Racism.

Suffolk University, located on Boston’s historic Beacon Hill, is a comprehensive, global institution distinguished by its teaching and the intellectual contributions of its faculty. Suffolk offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 70 areas of study. Its mission is to provide quality education at an affordable cost for students of all ages and backgrounds. Suffolk has a combined enrollment of 6,400 full-time and part-time students at its Law School, College of Arts and Sciences, Sawyer School of Management and New England School of Art and Design.

For further information please contact Mariellen Norris at 617-573-8450 or Tony Ferullo at 617-573-8448.

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