Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH)

The Initiative on Restorative Justice and Healing (IRJH) was launched in 2021 to teach law students, and the broader legal community, how to utilize restorative justice practices within our courts and communities in order to facilitate healing, build bridges and bring about a more just and inclusive society.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a worldwide movement that seeks to respond to harm in a way that fosters accountability and healing. These practices are used successfully in a variety of settings and professions, including education and law. Restorative justice invites practitioners to enter the wound of another by accompanying them as they tell their stories. Restorative justice finds an able and potent partner when grounded in and informed by the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Using the Law to Build Bridges and Facilitate Healing

The reality of racial injustice, polarization, and attendant harm from unjust social structures abounds in society. Harm has also been perpetrated upon victim-survivors and the broader Catholic Church as a result of abuse, clericalism, and ecclesial leadership failures. Law, its practitioners, and law schools hold considerable potential to bring about a more just and inclusive society by using law and legal education to build bridges, restore justice, and facilitate healing.

The objective is to name and heal the harm, focusing on these three areas:

  • racial justice;
  • institutional/leadership failures; and
  • societal polarization

The IRJH is grounded in biblical justice and Catholic social teaching.

Educating Law Students and the Legal Community

The IRJH, grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition and aligned to St. Thomas Law’s social justice mission, is committed to educating law students and the legal community about restorative justice and providing them with tools they can use as an alternative or complement to traditional punitive systems.

Specific to St. Thomas, the IRJH is offering an Intensive Course on Restorative Justice for upper-level students in the School of Law, starting Fall 2021, and creating a university-wide working group on restorative practices for interested faculty.

For St. Thomas students and the larger community, the IRJH will offer a variety of programming, including a restorative justice clinic for law students, conferences on restorative justice, colloquia and webinars on restorative justice and restorative practices.

Connect with the IRJH Leadership Team

Restorative Justice and Healing