Philadelphia Coalition for Restorative Justice to address key steps at Sept. 28 Conference at Villanova

Victims and Offenders Speak Together: “Restorative Justice in Action: A Challenge for Philadelphia”

VILLANOVA, Pa.—The Philadelphia Coalition for Restorative Justice will address key steps toward reconciling victims, offenders, affected families and communities at a Sept. 28 conference to be held at Villanova University. The event, “Restorative Justice in Action: A Challenge for Philadelphia,” will take place from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., at Villanova University’s Connelly Center.  The conference, which is free and open to the public, includes a panel discussion with victims, offenders, and affected families, as well as breakout sessions with restorative justice practitioners.

The Philadelphia Coalition for Restorative Justice involves a group of organizations that joined forces to engage in important restorative justice projects in the Greater Philadelphia area and further reconciliation between crime victims, offenders, and their respective families. Core members of the coalition include The Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor (ADROP), St. Joseph’s University, Villanova University, The Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia, and The Federal Court’s STAR Reentry Program.

"We came to the conclusion that one way we could further the goal of restorative justice was to engage in a dialogue where those involved could share their active work in this area,” said Fr. Paul Morrissey, OSA, Coordinator of Restorative Justice for ADROP.

“What better way to introduce this important issue than a panel of victims and offenders who will share their stories,” added Fr. Morrissey.  “From this practical engagement, we hope the public – including other agencies and individuals who work for restorative justice, especially university students – can be energized as a movement, as well as broadened as a base network for healing and justice-making in our city."

A panel-discussion with members of these coalition groups will highlight the challenge to bring true restorative justice to the Philadelphia criminal justice system. Former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske of Wisconsin will provide the keynote address. She is currently Distinguished Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School.

“A restorative framework is critical if we are to do true justice,” said Kathryn Getek Soltis, PhD, Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova University. “It helps us to recognize that harms and transgressions are never simple matters but occur within complex familial and communal relationships.  Restorative justice can inspire the wider society to work for reintegration and to ensure that each member has the opportunity to reclaim a sense of his or her full dignity.”

Break-out Workshops conducted by key agencies and individuals actively involved in restorative justice work in the Greater Philadelphia include: The Inside Out Program, the Federal Court’s S.T.A.R. (alternative reentry) program, the Mural Arts Program, Community College of Philadelphia Reentry Project, Restorative Justice from a Victim Advocacy Perspective, and Adeodatus Prison Ministry (of ADROP—the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor).

For more information or to register for the conference visit: www.villanova.edu/rjinaction