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Virginia Center for Restorative Justice

The Adam Oakes Case - Watch to see how Restorative Justice had a place in this.

Grace Among Us

023 - Embracing Grace over Punishment: Unraveling Restorative Justice with Lou Freyer


What does graceful justice look like? Ready to challenge the preconceived notions of you may have about justice? Brace yourselves for a transformative conversation with Lou Freyer, a retired psychologist and school counselor, currently associated with the Virginia Center for Restorative Justice. Together, we debunk traditional concepts of justice and explore the powerful potential of restorative justice. This beautiful, graceful approach, centered around responsibility, repair, and reconnection, aims not to punish the offender but to rebuild the community and reintegrate those who have faltered.

More than just a theory, we bring restorative justice to life through real case studies. Join us as we dissect everything from felony assault cases to tragic hazing incidents, all handled through the lens of restorative justice. Not only do we bust the myth of restorative justice being the 'easy way out,' we'll discuss how it promotes healing and growth for both the individual and the community. Lou's experience lends us a clear vision of restorative justice in action, unraveling its transformative power and the profound impact it leaves behind.

We also examine how restorative practices can create harmonious dynamics in all environments, including homes to schools. Learn to invite the tools of restorative justice into your own life, such as active listening and asking for specific change requests, with Lou guiding us through. Understand how you can become a part of this empathetic approach to justice and be the change in your community. So, are you ready to embrace a more compassionate justice system that focuses on grace over punishment? Tune in for an enlightening conversation that can forever shift your perspective on crime, punishment, and redemption.

Arlington prosecutor launches restorative justice program with help from federal grant.

According to the Washington Post 

By Rachel Weiner

December 10, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. EST

Parisa Tafti, the state attorney for Arlington County, seeks to expand diversion programs by her office. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

The chief prosecutor in Arlington County is launching a new diversion effort with $340,000 in funding from the Justice Department.

In a statement, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti called the grant a “game changer” that will give her office the capacity to “develop partnerships with diversion programs across the metro area, for the first time” by hiring a social worker and a data analyst.

Arlington County has a restorative justice program underway, in which people who have committed harm are given opportunities to make amends outside of the criminal justice system. The new staffers in the Virginia attorney’s office will work with that program.

“This grant award is an endorsement of the collaborative spirit that system partners here in Arlington have prioritized,” Restorative Arlington coordinator Kimiko Lighty said in the statement.

But the goal is to also identify other alternatives to prosecution, such as drug or mental health treatment, when restorative justice isn’t appropriate or a program in Arlington isn’t a good fit.

People who commit crimes in Arlington often come from outside the county, which borders Washington, Alexandria and Fairfax County. The data analyst, she added, will gauge the effectiveness of those diversion programs and help the office make “evidence-based” decisions.

Dehghani-Tafti was elected in 2019 on a campaign promising a less punitive approach to criminal justice in the county, ousting a veteran prosecutor. She has since pledged to specifically reduce racial disparities in prosecution. That program is starting next year, also with a focus on diversion programs.

Some of those efforts have been met with judicial resistance and sparked a Republican-driven recall campaign. Under President Donald Trump, Attorney General William P. Barr suggested the election of prosecutors like Dehghani-Tafti would lead to more violent crime.

The funding came through a Justice Department program launched under the Biden administration called Innovative Prosecution Solutions, which has issued more than $6 million in grants to 22 jurisdictions across the country. In the Washington region, Anne Arundel County also received a $176,800 grant to provide counseling and other services for juvenile offenders.

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By Rachel Weiner

Rachel Weiner covers federal courts in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Va.  Twitter

  This book is designed to help you navigate the challenges and joys of building and maintaining a healthy restorative ecosystem in your school, while providing concrete tools and real-world stories to guide you through the process. Traditional methods of discipline are commonly found to be ineffective, and this book shows how restorative justice can benefit schools in a huge variety of ways, such as decreasing the need for suspensions, increasing academic outcomes, and improving the health of your whole school community.

You can pick up a copy at your local bookstore or order one through this restorative justice website: 

Reach out to office at if you have any questions!

Restorative Justice: Why Do We Need it?

About the Center

We are a faith based non-profit organization dedicated to providing cooperative methods of resolving conflict. Our services include training and facilitation of restorative justice conferencing, restorative justice circles, restorative justice values-based programs, and introductory restorative justice training.

Copyright © Virginia Center for Restorative Justice 2022


Virginia Center for Restorative Justice
P.O. Box 1582
Glen Allen, VA 23060

(804) 313-9596

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