Center on Negotiation and Mediation Hosts Symposium on Restorative Justice


Social Justice Bluhm Legal Clinic Faculty
Annalise Buth, clinical assistant professor of law in the Center on Negotiation and Mediation

In November, the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Negotiation and Mediation held a virtual symposium series “Restorative Justice Origins, Applications, and Futures.” The three-day event was co-sponsored by UCLA School of Law’s Public Interest Law and Policy Program and the Promise Institute for Human Rights, South Carolina’s Restorative Justice Initiative, and the Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies at UC Davis.

The series provided a primer on the foundations of restorative justice, a system of criminal justice focused on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community. It also delved into how restorative justice can be used as an alternative to the criminal and juvenile legal systems, and how to incorporate restorative justice in the legal academy.

Annalise Buth, clinical assistant professor of law in the Center on Negotiation and Mediation, participated on the third panel, “Restorative Justice and the Legal Academy.” “I’m really grateful for this symposium,” Buth said. “It’s more important than ever to think about ways that we need to change, not only the legal system, but legal education.” Other panelists included: Jonathan Scharrer, director of the Restorative Justice Project at the University of Wisconsin Law Frank J. Remington Center; Thalia González, associate professor at Occidental College and senior scholar at Georgetown Law; and Tali Gires, UCLA School of Law graduate and attorney at Still She Rises Tulsa.

The group discussed how law schools can evolve their curriculum to include courses on restorative justice, but they noted that it can be difficult to get law faculty on board. “We have to step back and look at the structure and the pedagogy of a 1L law school curriculum,” said Buth. “In some ways, that mirrors what we see in restorative justice in the criminal legal system. There may be lawyers trying to take a more restorative approach, but we are imbedded in a very punitive system.” Of course, some professors are trying to break that cycle. Buth focused on the ways that Northwestern Pritzker Law is bringing restorative justice to the forefront in its courses. “Something that I really try to do is not only focus on theory, but give students experiential opportunities for learning.”

In addition to changing curriculum, the panelists discussed supporting rehabilitation programs in prisons to help inmates reacclimate to society, and supporting community organizations that help in restorative justice.

Other symposium panels included “Building Communities of Healing and Accountability” and “Restorative Justice as an Alternative to the Juvenile/Criminal Legal System,” featuring members of the UCLA Law community, community leaders, and more.

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