EMU professor publishes book on restorative justice

Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 8:42 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A professor, photojournalist, and activist at Eastern Mennonite University has published a new book.

Dr. Howard Zehr, also known as the “grandfather of restorative justice,” has been documenting the impact of life sentences since the 1970s. Restorative justice is an approach to justice that focuses on collaboration and communication between the offender and the victim.

His new book Still Doing Life: 22 Lifers, 25 Years Later, checks in with individuals serving life sentences in Pennsylvania. The book is a sequel to his 1996 work Doing Life, which introduces the individuals and shares their stories.

“Images by themselves are pretty ambiguous; they need words to ground them,” said Zehr. “I’m committed to combining words and images as much as possible.”

For Zehr, restorative justice relies on respect, responsibility, and relationships. Zehr uses empathic listening to connect with his subjects during interviews.

“A lot of our identity is found in our stories,” he added. “Listening to these people is very helpful for them to heal.”

After practicing restorative justice in over 25 counties, Zehr has taught thousands of students in the Valley. In fact, many schools, including James Madison University, are starting to use restorative justice on campus.

“If you are a victim, you often put your life back together by telling your story,” said Zehr.

More information about Zehr and his impact on criminal justice can be found here.

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