Jonathan Scharrer, director of the Restorative Justice Project (RJP) at the University of Wisconsin Law School's Frank J. Remington Center, appeared on “60 Minutes” May 12 as part of a story about restorative justice.

"We're looking at impact," Scharrer said in an interview with CNN. "It's a different focus than the traditional retributive justice lens, where the focus is just on the defendant or the person responsible for the crime."

Angel Wendt reached out to RJP after her brother was killed by a drunk driver. Lee Namtvedt went to prison for 10 years for the crime.

“We sat and talked for hours and hours and I found myself crying but it wasn’t for me. It was for him,” Wendt says.

Watch the “60 Minutes” segment here.

RJP was created in 1987 to serve victims and survivors in the aftermath of serious crimes. Through its victim-offender dialogue program, RJP offers the opportunity for victim survivors and their relatives to meet with and have questions answered by the person responsible for the crime.

Scharrer has extensive experience as a facilitator of victim-offender dialogues in sensitive and serious crimes and as a trainer in a variety of restorative justice practices. He is active in examining criminal justice policy--with a focus on victim-empowerment and addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system--and has helped design and implement multiple restorative justice diversion programs and restorative responses to crime.

You can also see Scharrer at 8 p.m. May 26 on CNN’s “The Redemption Project with Van Jones.” One of the executive producers and the director of the show is Jason Cohen, a 1994 UW-Madison journalism and communications arts graduate whose work includes feature films and documentaries.  

The series shows the restorative justice process by taking viewers into the room as offenders come face-to-face with those impacted by their crimes. The Wisconsin episode focuses on a 2013 incident in which a teen was killed by a driver high on heroin. The teen’s mother initiated the restorative justice process, meeting with the offender last year in Deerfield, Wis.

“Of the eight episodes, that is one of the most emotional,” says Cohen. “There’s not complete closure at the end of the show.”

Submitted by Käri Knutson on August 2, 2019

This article appears in the categories: Faculty, Features

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