Juvenile justice symposium explores role of restorative justice

Juvenile justice symposium explores role of restorative justice

"How are the Children? Part II: A Symposium Exploring the Role of Restorative Justice in Addressing the Needs of Youth" will be held from 9:30  a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, in the Schulze Grand Atrium of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in downtown Minneapolis.

The symposium will bring together community leaders to discuss how the principles of restorative justice can be used to transform the lives of youth in communities. Restorative justice is a theory that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior. It focuses on the interrelatedness of human experience, employing many stakeholders. Its holistic practices are especially important when dealing with children because they focus on peacemaking, caring and community building.

The symposium's keynote speaker is Mary Johnson, whose only child, 20-year-old son Laramiun Byrd, was murdered in 1993 by a 16-year-old in their north Minneapolis neighborhood. Searching for consolation from other parents who had experienced this kind of loss, she founded a support group called From Death to Life. She since has met frequently with and has forgiven her son's killer; in fact, Johnson refers to him as her "spiritual son." The young man, who has been active in restorative justice programs, will be released in three years.

Topics of four symposium panel discussions will include:

  • The role of "circle processes" for healing, community dialogue and self-reflection
  • Using restorative justice in public schools for conflict resolution and leadership development
  • Restorative justice as an alternative to juvenile detention
  • Future trends and practical applications of restorative justice.

Cost of the symposium is $25, including lunch and snacks. C.L.E. and C.E.U. credits have been applied for. To register online, visit www.stthomas.edu/law/rsvp . Call the St. Thomas School of Law Legal Services Clinic, (651) 962-4960, with any questions.