In June, the Vermont Law School’s Center for Justice Reform held the 2018 International Restorative Justice Conference: Global Unity and Healing in Burlington, Vermont at the UVM Dudley H. Davis Conference Center. Over 350 people attended from Vermont, across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. Dignitaries at the conference included Vermont’s U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermont’s Attorney General T.J. Donovan, and Burlington’s Mayor Miro Weinberger. Featured keynote speakers included Jennifer Llewelyn, sujatha baliga, Adam Foss, Leigh Goodmark, Paul Nixon, Estelle MacDonald, Saleem Tariq, Mary Ivec, Kathleen Falk, Donna Hicks, and Justice Yazzie. These featured speakers challenged and inspired attendees by looking critically at how to implement a truly restorative approach across a variety of disciplines including criminal and youth justice, domestic and intimate partner violence, education, building restorative cities, policy and leadership, peacemaking processes, and environmental justice.
Breakout sessions provided new information, revisited methods of promoting a restorative approach, and invited dialogue and process for building a restorative approach into individual professional avenues. In a follow up survey, over half the respondents reported the conference was “excellent” and when asked what they would have done differently, the single most frequent response was to have more time for networking and strategizing given the content and expertise of the presenters.
Thought provoking entertainment was featured with a special early preview of the Bess O’Brien film Coming Home, and a screening of the feature film Dawnland. Both were reported as highlights of the conference.
This very special global event was made possible with generous support from The Johnson Family Foundation, the Pennywise Foundation, the Vermont Department of Corrections, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the Vermont Association of Court Diversion Programs.
Contributing planning partners included the Vermont Department of Corrections, Vermont Attorney General’s Office, Vermont Association of Court Diversion Programs, New York Center for Court Innovation, Vermont Restorative Justice Consortium, the Restorative International Learning Community Hosted by Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, the UVM Office of Student and Community Hosted by Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, the UVM Office of Student and Community Relations, and the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.