Three of Chicago’s top leaders, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, and social justice champion Father Michael Pfleger, will join a panel discussion at National Louis University on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m.
They will address their experiences using restorative justice to pursue peace and civil behavior in Chicago. NLU’s Social and Behavioral Sciences, Community Psychology and Education faculty hope to raise awareness of restorative justice practices, such as peace circles, and their potential to help mitigate the effects of criminal behavior.
Under Superintendent Johnson, the Chicago Police Department has paired police recruits in training with at-risk minority students at underserved high schools. Likewise, Sheriff Dart has instituted peace circles with inmates and correctional officers in the Cook County Department of Corrections.
“When people have the opportunity to connect openly in a safe space with other human beings, new alternatives to violence may arise,” said NLU’s Mary Kelly, M.A., CAS.
Research indicates that a lack of connection to other people may correlate to a higher incidence of causing violence, she said. Peace circles bring people together in the hope of honest, open dialogue.
The goal of Restorative Justice is to create peace in communities by reconciling parties and repairing injuries caused by disputes. Peace circle facilitators, who are highly trained and operate by a strict protocol of no judging, no advice-giving and more, can help foster understanding and solutions. Some offenders who participated in peace circles have been motivated to make amends for their crimes and pursue alternatives, such as job training, in an effort to not re-offend.
The forum is part of the National Louis University Applied Behavioral Sciences Program’s ongoing series, which highlights activist and restorative justice efforts toward healing and peace.
It will take place Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. at NLU’s Chicago campus, 122 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, in the second-floor Atrium. Find more information and RSVP here.