Restorative Justice – does it work?
Speakers, panelists, and guests generously shared personal stories and perspectives on the currently evolving strategy of Restorative Justice during the January 16, 2020, Conversations Program at the Museum.
Lashonia Thompson-El launched the conversations with a personal account of her experiences with crime and incarceration. After spending over 15 years in jail, she shared her story in the Restorative Justice Program that eventually lead her to become Co-Chief of Violence Reduction of the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.
The next speaker, Metropolitan (DC) Police Department Sergeant Aaron Rudolph vividly explained how he became a victim of assault and battery while on duty. Though reluctant to call himself a “victim,” he shared his experience in meeting with his assailant, who initially agreed to a year’s worth of meetings but ultimately stopped attending after a handful. Though their year-long agreement fell short, Sergeant Rudolph explained how much those few meetings meant to him and his family, who were deeply impacted by the experience.
The moderator, NBC4 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer, then offered compelling questions about the restorative justice process and its impacts to both speakers and the two panelists in attendance, Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia and Roman Haferd, Restorative Justice Coordinator of the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.
Guests in the Museum’s sold-out Verizon Theater included individuals with a wide spectrum of perspectives, including many who had practiced restorative justice with our panelists and speakers, retired and active law enforcement, civil servants and local supporters. The program closed with an engaging question and answer session.