March 13, 2014

Panel to focus on restorative justice

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A class on alternative dispute resolution at the SIU School of Law is inviting some special guests -- the public. A judge and several legal experts are coming to the class as well. 

The topic is restorative justice, and the guest speaker is Judge George W. Timberlake, a leading proponent of the theory and practice.  A panel of experts will also weigh-in on restorative justice program successes and challenges.  The open class is 5-7 p.m. on Monday, March 17, in the Lesar Law Building, Room 102.  An informal reception follows. 

Tom Margolis, adjunct professor and practicing lawyer, explained that community involvement is crucial to the success of restorative justice -- hence the invitation to the community to learn about it. 

Restorative justice focuses primarily on youth-related, non-violent crimes and rehabilitation.  One of the core concepts is to make the offender aware of the effects of the crime, and to do so by bringing the offender together with the victim and with various members of the community.  A part of the goal is to make the offender a part of the community rather than separate from it. 

“Those who support restorative justice programs see crime as being harmful to the community,” Margolis said. “Restorative justice programs seek to repair that harm in a meaningful way, with the offender, the victim, and the community all involved in the judicial process to make that happen.” 

Timberlake retired in 2006 as chief judge of the Second Judicial Circuit in southeastern Illinois, where he served as a trial judge for 23 years.  He is chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, and an alternate member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, as well as several other statewide organizations pertaining to juvenile justice. 

Members of the panel include:  (Note: the panel may be subject to change)

• Mike Abell -- Director of Court Services for the State of Illinois, Second Judicial Circuit; and president of the Illinois Association of Juvenile Justice Councils.

• Sara Balgoyen -- Executive director of the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice

• Jeff Bradley -- Juvenile Justice Project Manager and government affairs liaison for Illinois Collaborations on Youth and Illinois Youth Network Council.

• Michelle Bradley -- Regional director of Caritas Family Solutions.

• Melva Clarida -- representing the Illinois Youth Camp in Harrisburg.

• Joanna Wells -- Clinical assistant professor in the SIU School of Law, Juvenile Justice Clinic

• Sally Wolf -- Program coordinator for the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice project.