Friends of Restorative Justice

“A Case for Restorative Justice” Education Series

There are several initiatives now underway in Washtenaw County to use restorative justice in criminal harm and in community conflict. Restorative justice provides effective alternatives to incarceration, contributes to healing individuals and communities, and builds stronger and better relationships.  

With this educational series FoRJ continues to promote the use of, and build support for, restorative justice so that individuals will know to ask for it and officials will have the political will to move forward, rather than succumb to the temptation of reverting to the status quo.

In this light, in conjunction with The Dispute Resolution Center and the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration, we offer the public and professionals this series of educational programs.

Seema Gajwani

The first event, A Conversation with Seema Gajwani, held via Zoom on April 7th, 2022

Ms. Gajwani is the Special Council for Juvenile Justice Reform and Chief of the Restorative Justice Section at the Washington, D.C. Office of the Attorney General. 
— Recording of the entire Webinar [01:23:46]
— Clip of section on Seema’s journey from restorative justice skeptic to enthusiast (from 4:49 to 20:12 in the entire Webinar) 
— Clip of section on using restorative justice in serious crimes from 19:54 to 22:20 in the entire Webinar) 

The studies that Seema refers to in the 3rd clip are reported here: Strang, Heather, et al, “Restorative Justice Conferencing (RJC) Using Face-to-Face Meetings of Offenders and Victims: Effects on Offender Recidivism and Victim Satisfaction. A Systematic Review”, Campbell Systematic Reviews 2013:12

Robert Burton-Harris

A Conversation with Robert Burton-Harris, held via Zoom on August 11, 2022

Mr. Burton-Harris is a defense attorney. He has served as a public defender in Wayne County with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit. He has now returned to private practice and is a member of the Washtenaw County Bar Association. This hour-long event can be viewed at

Thomas L. Hafemeister

Intersectionality of Mental Disorders, Incarceration and Restorative Justice, held via Zoom on December 8, 2022

This panel discussion is the third event in the ‘A Case for Restorative Justice’ Education Series. The discussion features Thomas L. Hafemeister, PhD, JD, (retired) University of Virginia School of Law and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences; Derrick Jackson, Director of Community Engagement, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office; and Felicia Brabec, Michigan State Representative. The event can be viewed at

Patrick Conlin

Restorative Justice in Illinois: State Legislation and Community Court in Cook County, held via Zoom on May 18, 2023

Illinois has relatively new state legislation that ensures victims and offenders have the right to restorative justice. This panel discussion focuses on the use of restorative justice under the new law in Cook County, Illinois. The guests are The Honorable Patricia Spratt of the Cook County North Lawndale Restorative Justice Community Court and Attorney Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Executive Director of the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy. The discussion is moderated by Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Patrick Conlin. A recording of this event, the fourth in the ‘A Case for Restorative Justice’ Education Series, can be viewed in the Friends of Restorative Justice YouTube channel.

Fred Van Liew

Expanding the Vision of Restorative Justice with Fred Van Liew, held via Zoom on February 8, 2024

Fred Van Liew spoke on “Expanding the Vision of Restorative Justice”. Many of you may know Fred from earlier days of Friends of Restorative Justice. As former prosecutor in Des Moines Iowa, Fred was a pioneer in the work of restorative justice. These days he works in different parts of the country looking at how these restorative practices can be used to address all levels of crime. He helped shape and inspire Friends of Restorative Justice and helped bring restorative justice to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. A video recording of the discussion can be found at the Friends of Restorative Justice YouTube channel.

Fred Van Liew

Healing Harm through Restorative Justice and the Role of the Community, held in person on May 28, 2024

Tuesday May 28, 2024, 6–8 pm The Dispute Resolution Center and Friends of Restorative Justice presented Fred Van Liew, a pioneer and practitioner in the work of restorative justice speaking on “Healing Harm through Restorative Justice and the Role of the Community”. Fred Van Liew spoke about his experiences using restorative justice in multiple contexts including serious crimes for juveniles and adults. He has creatively adapted restorative justice to process cases involving welfare fraud, shoplifting, and drunk driving, sometimes using a community surrogate in dialog with the person who caused the harm. This event was recorded in person at the Ypsilanti District Library, Whittaker Branch Community Room, 5577 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti, MI.