Today, our Law Student Podcast team brings you twice the information on restorative justice with two segments, two guest hosts, and three panelists.
Ending Mass Incarceration Through Restorative Justice
A big motivator for some individuals to attend law school is the ability to positively influence the communities from which they come. However, what assistance can a lawyer provide for their neighborhood if they feel the community is being unfairly targeted by law enforcement? How can members of the profession have a positive effect on incarceration rates through the application of restorative justice techniques?
Fabiani Duarte and guest host Andrew Scott talk with attorney Sarah Walton about mass incarceration in our criminal justice system and how restorative justice concepts could be applied. Sarah begins the interview by explaining her self-proclaimed moniker as a “free range attorney and abolitionist” and gives some insights into what those labels mean to her. She then talks about her work to help reduce the number of incarcerations through programs like pre-arrest diversion and some restorative justice tactics that law enforcement can implement to ensure the safety of all parties involved. The group then takes a moment to reflect on the disparate effects that The War on Drugs has had on low income communities and how new harm-reductive approaches to drug policing can improve public safety. Sarah then wraps up the discussion with an analysis of the stigma citizens returning from incarceration face in their communities and the things that law students can do, like attending court proceedings, to support members of their communities.
Walton is a 1989 graduate of the New York University School of Law. She graduated from Earlham College in 1981 with an interdisciplinary major in human development and social relations. She is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maine and is co-author of Maine Law Enforcement Officer’s Manual. For ten years, she was professor of criminal justice and justice studies at the University of Maine at Augusta. Since September 2012 she has resided in Georgia where she assists individuals, community groups, and governmental agencies in working to increase public trust in the criminal justice system and to enhance the safety of everyone in the community, including law enforcement officers. She is Director of Policy and Community Outreach for the Parental Empowerment Institute, where she is working to bring a pre-booking diversion program to DeKalb County in metro Atlanta.
Applying Restorative Justice Concepts to Capital Cases
When it comes to a capital case, prosecuting or defending an individual whose life rests on the verdict can be a personal struggle. How does a lawyer cope with the loss of a client and what restorative justice options can they seek in lieu of the death penalty?
Fabiani and guest host Linsey Addington speak with Professor Sarah Gerwig Moore and Dr. Melissa Browning about the death penalty and ways restorative justice concepts can be used in capital cases. Sarah and Melissa begin by listing a few concepts and common misconceptions, such as the cost to the taxpayer for executing an inmate, that they believe should be considered when approaching the death penalty debate. Dr. Browning then goes into detail about how she learned about the Kelly Gissendaner case and what inspired her to get involved in seeking parole for Gissendaner. Professor Moore also gives some insight into her experience of being lead counsel seeking clemency for a death row inmate named Josh Bishop and explains the type of relationships lawyers can develop with these clients. The group then considers processes within the criminal justice system where restorative justice concepts can be applied and how these concepts, like seeking life without the possibility of parole, can reduce death row executions and promote communal well being.
Professor Sarah Gerwig-Moore‘s teaching and scholarship interests center around constitutional criminal law, appellate and post-conviction practice and procedure, and experiential public service learning. Since joining the Mercer faculty in 2006, she has created and now teaches the Habeas Project, the only pro bono effort in Georgia to offer representation in non-capital post-conviction cases. She received her BA, summa cum laude, from Mercer University, her Master of Theological Studies from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, and her JD from Emory University School of Law.
Dr. Melissa Browning is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Contextual Ministry at Mercer University. Dr. Browning is a community-based participatory action researcher and Christian ethicist. Browning’s recent academic work has focused on ethnographic research in East Africa. Browning is also an anti-death penalty activist and the organizer of the Kelly on My Mind Collective. Dr. Browning received her Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Loyola University Chicago (2011). She also holds an M.Div. in Global Missions from George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University (2002) and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Gardner-Webb University (1999).