The Restorative Justice Committee was founded by a group of Berkeley law students who were critical of the current mass incarceration system in the US. In restorative justice, they saw a much more humane and holistic way of addressing crime and its consequences. The Committee became a space for law students to learn more about the restorative justice framework and how it applies in a variety of settings: prisons, schools, community organizations, and even law school classrooms.

Today Committee members attend restorative justice symposia and weekly meetings in San Quentin State Prison, where they sit in circles with inmates, learn from their experiences, and contribute to their growth. They also volunteer in Berkeley High Student Court, where they act as “judges” in a disciplinary process that involves restorative principles. Guided by two co-chairs—Ioana Tchoukleva (’14) and Sean Darling-Hammond (’14)—students have also attended lunchtime talks by prominent practitioners, such as Sujatha Baliga, Jody Lewen and Jaimee Karroll. The Committee also invites formerly incarcerated men and women to talk about the impact of restorative justice on their lives and provide invaluable insight into the effects of tough-on-crime criminal justice policies.

In the spring of 2013, the Restorative Justice Committee partnered with the Restorative Justice Center to organize a multi-day restorative justice training for UC Berkeley students, Berkeley Law students, and community members. The Committee hopes to continue building a network of students who intend to use RJ principles in their legal or advocacy careers.

Click here for a video recording of a talk by Sujatha Baliga entitled “Law’s Middle Way: Mindfulness and Restorative Justice.” The event was organized by the Berkeley Initiative of Mindfulness in the Law and co-sponsored by the Restorative Justice Committee.

If you are interested in joining or contributing in any way, please contact:
Simon Mont (sjmont@berkeley.edu) and Kyra Taylor (ktaylor87@berkeley.edu).