Webinar: How Congregations Can Practice Restorative Justice in Their Communities
The U.S. has the largest and most expensive incarceration system in the world. There are alternatives to this system that can help citizens avoid jail and support formerly incarcerated individuals returning to society. Restorative Justice encourages the humanization of those who have caused harm and provides better alternatives than our current incarceration system.
This webinar is a conversation about the positive outcomes derived from Restorative Justice practices. Our panel of experts discuss why it is important for congregations and communities to examine, explore, and embrace the principles of Restorative Justice which can transform churches, families, schools, and communities.
Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker
Assistant Professor of Contextual Education and Community Engagement at Eden Theological Seminary
Dr. Baker is the lead organizer of MCU’s “Break the Pipeline” campaign aiming to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in Missouri. Dr. Baker is certified anti-racism trainer for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and a trainer of faith-based community organizing in the Gamaliel network. Dr. Baker has a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.; a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO; and her Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO. Dietra is married to Cornell R. Baker, they have a son Cornell A. (Deuce) Baker II, and she is a bonus mom to Alexis Baker.
Rev. Nora Jacob
Restorative Justice Minister
My ministry there responds to my call to serve people who are marginalized – specifically, those returning to society after having been incarcerated. I founded and continue to coordinate a network of 40+ organizations called the Pomona Valley Reentry Coalition that serves returning citizens. Legislative advocacy and anti-racism/pro-reconciliation work are other dimensions of my ministry. I lead restorative justice circles with those serving term-to-life or life-without-parole sentences for doing major harm to others. In this, I am grateful to help to empower, and to witness, their healing and resurrection every week. I coordinate the Freedom Art Project to promote the creativity and transformation of currently and previously incarcerated artists. We hold art shows of their work to promote creativity and transformation, and to raise funds for prison art programs and victims’ rights activities.
Dr. Carl Stauffer
Senior Expert, Reconciliation at United States Institute of Peace
Before joining USIP, Stauffer was Associate Professor at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University. While in academia, Stauffer also functioned as the Academic Director of the Caux Scholars Program in Switzerland and Co-Director of the Zehr Institute of Restorative Justice. Prior to that, Stauffer served 16 years in South Africa holding positions of Regional Peace Advisor for the Southern Africa Region, Program Director of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute, and Education and Training Coordinator for the Letsema Conflict Transformation Program. Stauffer entered the field in 1991 as Executive Director of the Capital Area Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program in Richmond, Virginia, USA. Stauffer received his BA (Social Work and Religious Studies) and MA (Conflict Transformation) from Eastern Mennonite University. He earned his PhD (Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies) from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa.
Rev. Dean Bucalos J.D.
Mission Specialist, Prison and Jail Ministries at National Benevolent Association
Dean was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has served as the pastor of congregations in Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana. He is the founding pastor of New Life in Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a congregation he began inside a women’s re-entry facility in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the former executive director of Mission Behind Bars and Beyond, an ecumenical re-entry program that trains small, faith-based groups to work with returning citizens upon their release from prison. He retired from the organization in 2020. Prior to his ordination, Rev. Bucalos practiced law in Ashland and Lexington, Kentucky. He serves as an adjunct professor at Bellarmine in Louisville, Kentucky, where he teaches classes on Christianity and Social Justice. Dean is a trained volunteer facilitator for Restorative Justice Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt, Univ. of Kentucky College of Law, and Lexington Theological Seminary.