The Prison Studies Project has been involved in transformative justice work at the local and national level for many years. Our Transformative Justice Initiative is in partnership with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Office of Student Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion Program for students. Through interdisciplinary conversations across Harvard University and beyond, we explore justice that transforms—our selves, our relationships, and our communities.
Since August 2016, we have hosted community conversations in three parts: public forums and specialized trainings (often in prison), films, and a monthly student working lunch. Topics include: school discipline and mass criminalization; human dignity and storytelling; racial healing and restorative justice practices; child sex trafficking and trauma; the role of empathy and social/emotional learning in education, sanctuary and state violence. Our theme for the 2018-2019 academic year was Agency, Voice and Membership.”
Our understanding of transformative justice includes repairing harm in relationships and changing systems that cause harm. Whether justice is framed in terms of freedom or equity, opportunity or protection, collective responsibility or being made whole, it is a process that reveals itself in relation to our own and each other’s humanity. Transformative justice work as we imagine it is internal, relational, structural, and ongoing.
On March 26, 2015, Dr. Kaia Stern chaired a panel at the historic #BipartisanSummit for Criminal Justice Reform in Washington D.C., titled Justice that Transforms: Emotional, Social, and Mental Health.