On February 28, 2015, the Harvard Negotiation Law Review (HNLR) proudly presented its ninth annual symposium, “Restorative Justice: Theory Meets Application,” a full-day conference on how restorative justice principles may be applied to different areas of practice.
The symposium began with opening remarks by Rachel Viscomi, Assistant Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program. Ms. Viscomi reflected on recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and the ways in which our current criminal justice system contributes to disconnection and disenfranchisement. In this way she framed the symposium as an examination on how restorative practices might assist in the reformation of the U.S. judicial system.
The first panel, “Bringing a Theory to Life: Origins, Expectations, and Realization,” focused on the evolution of the theory of restorative justice and its relationship to other theories of punishment. Moderated by Sonja Starr, three leading academics in the field—Annalise Acorn, Mark Umbreit, and Daniel Van Ness—engaged in passionate dialogue on the merits and failings of restorative justice as a system. The session also included conversation on the potential for restorative justice to address various social ills in society.
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