Late in 2019, BJA launched the National Center on Restorative Justice (the Center). The purpose of this program is to:
- Educate and train the next generation of juvenile and criminal justice leaders. BJA will work with its partners to engage and challenge undergraduate, graduate, and law students—in conjunction with criminal justice professionals, community members, educators, and social service providers at the state, regional, and national levels—in order to broaden their understanding of criminal justice systems and restorative approaches through a degree program, a summer-term institute, or brief courses, while encouraging access to educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals.
- Support research focusing on how best to provide direct services to address social inequities such as simultaneous access to substance abuse treatment and higher education.
BJA selected Vermont Law School (VLS) as its first partner in the National Center on Restorative Justice program to support the field in accessing education, training, and research resources to advance restorative justice (RJ) principles and practices. BJA will work with VLS to:
- Develop RJ and justice systems educational curricula for semester-long and 2-week summer courses delivered residentially and online, including two RJ Institutes every year at VLS.
- Educate undergraduate, graduate, and law students and criminal and juvenile justice professionals in the history, philosophy, and practices of juvenile, criminal, and restorative justice.
- Train criminal and juvenile justice professionals to infuse RJ into their work.
- Increase educational opportunities for incarcerated people.
- Provide education and training for people participating in a judicially supervised drug or other treatment court.
- Research, evaluate, and report on the Center’s impact on attitudes, recidivism, and the costs associated with expanded RJ education for students, professionals, and incarcerated individuals.
In FY 2020, BJA issued a solicitation to fund a second, complementary project to support the management of the National Center on Restorative Justice. This new project will complement and build on the activities outlined in the FY 2019 project above. BJA is seeking ideas to address other training needs for the target audiences and to address other gaps in the research. The partners awarded funds are expected to work closely with BJA staff and other BJA-funded training and technical assistance partners as it relates to this program.