UW Tacoma’s Legal Pathways — in partnership with Dr. Cynthia Howson’s Community Based Justice class — will host a panel discussion centering around restorative justice on Oct. 30, during Husky Hour in CP 108. The seminar, titled “The Road to Repair: Restorative Justice in the Aftermath of Violence and Harm” will feature two members of the Tacoma community: DeVitta Briscoe and Shalisa Hayes. Students do not need to register ahead of time to attend the event.
Director of Legal Pathways Patricia Sully discussed how events like this help students learn more about the different ways to participate in criminal justice reform. Legal Pathways — an on-campus organization aimed at promoting and building legal opportunities for students interested in careers in the field of law — have hosted similar events in the past to show students the different opportunities available for those interested in law, criminal justice, alternatives to criminal justice, and reformation of the system.
“Legal Pathways supports students who are pursuing law school and traditional legal work, as well as students interested in law-related careers,” Sully said.
Briscoe and Hayes will lead and facilitate discussion on how to improve community awareness and accountability, how survivors are affected and how to address violence, all in the scope of restorative justice.
Both Briscoe and Hayes have lost loved ones due to violence, and it was from their losses that inspired and motivated them to work within their communities. Briscoe, who is the survivor network coordinator for the Community Justice Project, lost her son Donald McCaney in 2010 due to gun violence and her brother Che Taylor in 2016 by Seattle Police. She has worked with the city of Tacoma’s Gang Reduction Project, the “A Better Seattle” campaign — which seeks to end youth violence — and helped to push for police reform through initiatives to curb police usage of deadly force. She has also helped to increase transparency and fairness in officer-involved shootings.
Hayes, a grief coach and member on the Survivor Advisory Board, lost her 17-year-old son to gun violence. From her loss, she helped to secure funding and pushed for the construction of a community center in Tacoma’s Eastside. In October of 2018, the Eastside Community Center opened, featuring modern community center amenities like a pool, recording studio and several child, senior and community programs. Hayes also founded M.O.M — Mothers of Magnitude — which is a peer support group for mothers who have lost children.
Legal Pathways offers several resources for students interested in the legal field. They help students interested in law school, connect students with local community justice programs and groups and show how laws and policies play out in our daily lives. Every third Thursday of the month, Legal Pathways hosts a workshop to help prepare students for law school. They also hold several panels and discussions on different aspects of law and policy, such as restorative justice and community justice.
“Restorative justice is a fascinating field and UWT actually has one of the foremost experts here on campus: Professor Barbara Toews,” said Sully. “It is my hope that students who walk away inspired by the presentation explore what opportunities are here for them to learn more about this area in one of Professor Toews’ courses.”
If you are interested in learning more about Legal Pathways, go to www.tacoma.uw.edu/legal-pathways-initiative/legal-pathways-initiative.