The National Center on Restorative Justice (NCORJ) improves criminal justice policy and practice in the United States through supporting education and research to further restorative approaches.
The NCORJ is a partnership between Vermont Law and Graduate School, the University of Vermont, the University of San Diego, and the U.S. Office of Justice Programs, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The activities of the NCORJ fall under three strategic pillars:
Advancing Restorative Justice Education in Higher Education
Strategy: Promote and resource the teaching of restorative justice in universities and law schools in order to educate future justice system actors in restorative approaches.
Rationale: The existing criminal legal system replenishes itself regularly with newly minted graduates trained in an adversarial model. Educating undergraduate, graduate, and law students in the adversarial model perpetuates the use of the adversarial model. The NCORJ creates change through promoting restorative justice education in undergraduate, graduate, and law programs, equipping the next generation of criminal justice professionals to bring the restorative justice approach to bear in reforming a broken system.
Advancing Restorative Justice Education for the General Public
Strategy: Provide effective restorative justice education and training for criminal justice system actors and the general public.
Rationale: Expansion of implementation of restorative justice in the criminal justice context hinges on greater buy-in from justice system actors (police, judges, lawyers, probation/diversion officers, etc.) who have the power to refer cases to restorative justice and the general public. Justice system actors and the general public need to know what restorative justice is and why they should care.
Advancing Restorative Justice Research
Strategy: Launch and support an independent research community to advance restorative justice research for systems change and addressing social inequities in the US criminal legal system.
Rationale: Restorative justice research has lagged behind practice. Where research does exist, it is often narrowly applicable to a specific program or context that is difficult to translate across settings. Foundational research such as shared language and definitions, assessment and fidelity tools, outcome instruments, and implementation approaches are notably lacking. In response to these needs, the Restorative Justice Research Community (RJRC) was established as an independent, interdisciplinary academic community that provides a platform for advancing and sustaining the field of restorative justice research. The RJRC prioritizes an approach to research that aims to empower community-based research partnerships and diverse voices.
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