February 12, 2020
NEWBURGH, N.Y -
Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, associate professor of Criminology at Mount Saint Mary College, discussed the applications of restorative justice at a recent talk at the Newburgh Free Library.
Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, associate professor of Criminology at Mount Saint Mary College, discussed the benefits and applications of restorative justice during her talk at the Newburgh Free Library on Tuesday, February 11.
Restorative justice focuses on relationships between community members, explained Lee-Gonyea. The victims, offenders, and members of the community work together to find a solution that repairs, as much as possible, the harm done. Restorative practices use dialogue, mediation, and other means to hold offenders accountable for their actions, while also helping them to reintegrate into the community after their responsibilities to the victims and community have been met. Depending on the situation, restorative justice can be used on its own or in conjunction with the existing criminal justice system.
“It’s about making sure that all people have a place in the process and that they have a voice in the process,” Lee-Gonyea explained. “The victims and the community have been harmed and are in need of restoration…Offenders have the obligation to make things as right as possible, but they also have the obligation to address their own needs.”
By ensuring that the needs of all parties are met, everyone involved can begin the healing process, said Lee-Gonyea: the offender makes amends and provides closure to the victim, thus making the community a better place. The offender, having been involved in the process and understanding the effects of his or her actions on others, may be less likely to reoffend upon their release.
The Mount’s Criminology major explores the varied aspects of crime, from victimization and the criminal justice system to exploring society’s response to criminals and the reasons people break the law. This includes classes on restorative justice. Those who complete the Criminology program will have many career options, including positions in law enforcement, corrections, community service agencies, child welfare programs, adult protective services, mental health, and more.
Lee-Gonyea holds a BA in Psychology from West Virginia University, an MS in Criminal Justice from Marshall University, and a Ph.D. in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Before earning her PhD, she worked at the Supreme Court of West Virginia. Lee-Gonyea worked as an assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Texas International University in Laredo, Texas before joining the faculty at the Mount.