David Karp is a professor and director of the Center for Restorative Justice in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. His current scholarship focuses on restorative justice in community and educational settings. For his work on campus restorative justice, he was the recipient of the 2019 Leadership and Innovation Award from the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice as well as the 2011 Donald D. Gehring Award from the Association for Student Conduct Administration. David has published more than one hundred academic papers and six books, including The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Colleges and Universities, Wounds That Do Not Bind: Victim-Based Perspectives on the Death Penalty and The Community Justice Ideal.
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David Ryan (he/him): David, welcome to this restorative justice life. Who are you?
David Karp (he/him): Thanks for having me. I am David Karp
David Ryan (he/him): Who are you?
David Karp (he/him): I am a professor of leadership Studies in the School of Leadership and Education at the University of San Diego.
David Ryan (he/him): Who are you?
David Karp (he/him): I am the director of the Center for Restorative Justice here at USC
David Ryan (he/him): Who are you?
David Karp (he/him): Oh, a lot of things, you know, dad and a husband and a son, and a brother and an uncle, and, you know, the many, those many family roles.
David Ryan (he/him): Who are you?
David Karp (he/him): A, a white guy. in his middle age, 57, Jewish. Those are probably the main demographic items.
David Ryan (he/him): Who are you?
David Karp (he/him): Wow. Yeah. there's a, this is cheating, but there's, if you haven't seen the movie, The Last Wave, which came out in 1970s, there is a scene, David, where this sequence is asked, and it's, it has very significant consequences for the movie.
So you should check that out. But, that's where it gets kind of existential and where I quickly go. "I don't know, I'm just a guy trying to get by in a really strange world right now".
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm. I'm gonna throw one more at you. Who are you?
David Karp (he/him): I think I'm a person who's pretty happy to be on the show today to talk with you.
David Ryan (he/him): Well, beautiful. We're so glad to have you. And we'll get back to the full conversation with David right after this.
Oh my goodness. So good to have yet another David here on this restorative justice life. We had David Yusem about a month in change ago. and he's doing great work in Oakland and he shared so much of story and how, you know, We can think like jazz musicians to think about the way that we do restorative justice.
So if you haven't listened to that episode, definitely go back, and check out that conversation with another beloved, person. but we're so excited to have you here. David's strongly representing here on these airwaves. It's always good to check in, to the extent that you want to answer the question right now.
How are you?
David Karp (he/him): Those are all California Davids, I think, yeah. The San Francisco gay parade used to have a float dedicated to just David.
David Ryan (he/him): Oh, wow.
David Karp (he/him): Maybe you can recruit.
David Ryan (he/him): I, I should. Right? That's like in my birth year. It was like the fourth most common name. So there have to be many more of us doing this work.
David Karp (he/him): I'm good. I'm good. Thanks for having me today.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah, like David Karp and like most of the people who, sorry, like David Yusem and most of the people, who are on this podcast, you know, you are doing restorative justice work professionally, and you have been for quite some time. But I imagine you were doing work similar to this even before you knew the words restorative justice.
So in your own words, how did this journey get started for you?
David Karp (he/him): You know, that's interesting. I was a piece and conflict studies major in college, and I discovered that major, which was brand new at Berkeley, when I was a student at Tufts University. But I was in California visiting my brothers and, and I discovered this major and it was, you know, a light bulb went on for me. And, and I realized that that's what I really wanted to do when I transferred and joined this program. And I think at the time there was probably just as much conflict in the program as there was peace. and, just figuring out how, how to resolve conflict was pretty central to my framing of things.
I think my origins are really with Ghandi and non-violence. That's what I was most interested in studying and implementing at the time. And then I went to graduate school, to be a sociologist because I, you know, I wanted to solve problems, social problems. So that's where I got my start. That, that was the larger frame.
Well, I mean, all before restorative justice was a term. Sure.
David Ryan (he/him): But where did you even get introduced to? Like Gandhi and non-violence, right? Because before like, oh, peace and conflict studies, like you had to have a framing of like, Oh, this is something important that I want to do in my life. Where did that, come in for you?
David Karp (he/him): And when I went to college in the early 1980s and that was, one of those moments with really heightened nuclear war tensions and, you know, a nuclear freeze movement. So I was an activist and, you know, good protests and there would be a lot of debate, about whether or not nonviolence was the new approach to take.
David Karp (he/him): And that was really just the legacy of Ghandi and King. Or whether, you know, more drastic measures were needed, you know, to wake people up. So I think that debate was, very front and center at least at the time.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. How, I mean, you ended up, and you have been, more towards, you know, the, the nonviolence.
Right. what helped you like, resonate with that framing? Right. Because, you know, De Mointe, who is a part of the Amplifier team, is right now going through EMUs Eastern Michigan University's a conflict transformation, master's degree program. And you know, as much as their orientation is towards abolition, restorative justice, transformative justice, all these things on many levels.
And, and I'm thinking about like, a episode that we did with, for beef for briefs, Gary, Who's Haitian. Right. And like the, the Haitian Revolution is what got people to independence, like violence has, led to some forms of liberation. Violence has led to some forms of power transfer and, struggle.
Why is the non-violence, methods and practices something that like really resonated with you?
David Karp (he/him): Yeah. I don't know if it's as simple as, you know, the means have to align with the ends.
Sure. in some way. if it was reading, if you read Ghandi or, you read Martin Luther King, you know, the moral case that they make is so compelling. It's hard to go back from that.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): You know, from this concept of like, you know, like truth force.
David Ryan (he/him): Can you break that down for folks who, folks, myself included, have not done that specific reading?
David Karp (he/him): I, like the, I think the general idea is you're appealing to someone's conscience in a deep and profound way by being so present with the truth of the situation that they can't stand their own hypocrisy.
So if they're, you know, beating you down in the name of civilization, then they can't stand that, contradiction between the violence and the idea of, you know, civility or civilization. and so it's, it, it ultimately becomes overwhelmingly powerful. Even more powerful than violence. We don't have the same level of, you know, violent means available to you.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah.
David Karp (he/him): I think it just, just that kind of moral truth and moral goodness, who wouldn't want that, you know, to aspire to that.
David Ryan (he/him): I definitely think there's like the intellectual moral, like, oh yes, this is the way that we can be, but in the face of so much oppression and repeated harm from people who seemingly don't have a conscience and like we can talk about, you know, how we don't believe that as restorative justice practitioners, people definitely, like, I can definitely see where folks.
Think violence is the answer for, for the moment, right? non tactics of nonviolence, I'm gonna say like, aren't necessarily what every situation calls for. Especially like if, and, and I think it like depends on like what your, your values are, like what your, what your absolute values are. in the, in the world that we live in right now, I can see how it's hard for folks to like think that like those ways are the ways to go.
I'm also reading, revisiting, and like I'm putting this out into the universe as like a potential podcast guests. Steven Byer, he talks about and many others talk about like the myth of redemptive violence. this is in his book Talking Stick and like the myth of redemptive violence has been so ingrained.
So many of us, I would say all of us, like, but it's in our, our media, it's in the stories that we consume and people wanting that public acknowledgement, but also like justification of like, Yeah, this person did this thing, and this is what they get. even if the thing that they get is more harm for perpetuating this cycle, people see that as justice.
was it just like that introduction through reading that like made that connect for you? Or was there something else that happened in your life? They were like, Oh, you know, violence is not the answer.
David Karp (he/him): I don't know. I really don't, I mean, I think I was being honest with, I'm saying like I'm just trying to survive in ba really messed up world.
So I think all I can do is try to live in. The way that I see as having the most integrity in the world, and I'll try to do that for as long as I can. And that's the classic challenge right there. Like, sure, well, can you be against the death penalty until you know a family member is murdered and then you'll the death penalty.
so maybe, you know, like maybe when I'm confronted directly head on, I'll change my tune. but for the moment, you know, I think I want advocate for, you know, a life worth living. but I think the, maybe the main thing here, and this really is a, as a sociologist talking, is that we are ping through individual choices.
David Karp (he/him): Mm-hmm. my own moral commitments versus collective choices. And so, Gandhi couldn't do his thing by himself, where Martin couldn't do his thing by himself. He, he had to have enough people, a critical mass of people buy into that model for it be successful. and you can argue about how successful that was or, you know, historically analyze it.
but if we're gonna see systemic change, then we have to operate systemically, meaning collectively. And,you know, how we get there is the game, right? How do we convince enough people? How do we engage enough people? I think at minimum, I like to be engaged in the restorative justice community because it's like, it's, it feeds my soul in a good way.
David Karp (he/him): In ways that maybe other. You know, movement politics, wouldn't because of the, the stress or the anger or the, the fear that would just, you know, kind of ruin me from, and, you know, in the inside. And so if I can feel uplifted by the work and by the people around me, and more of us can feel that way, maybe we'd have some, Yeah.
David Ryan (he/him): Restorative justice community, has definitely been a continued source of inspiration and like the people who I've been introduced to through this work, you know, and continue to be introduced to you through this podcast and all, all of this, like are definitely inspirations and reminders of the way that this work can be life giving, this way of being can be life giving.
Where were you introduced to the words, the framework and what clicked for
David Karp (he/him): you? I had just finished my dissertation, which was not about restorative justice, it was about moral decision making, in response to environmental issues. And, I ended up at a, in, in a postdoc at George Washington University in a policy center.
And the director of the center, a, a pretty well known sociologist, amai, It's the only said to me something that I was not expecting when I first arrived. And he said like, What do you wanna do? And I was like, What are you talking about? I just spent, you know, years working on this dissertation. I have to keep doing that, whatever that is.
And he's like, No, you don't. You can, you're, that's done. You can pick something new. So I, I ha I was given some space to think about what was. what felt right and important to me. And in those moments when I was pondering, I went to a conference, organized by, NIJ, the National Institute of Justice.
And, two guys from the Vermont Department of Corrections, Jim Spinelli and John Perry presented about their brand new statewide restorative justice program. And I hadn't heard of anything like it, and I was mesmerized. and then, a year later I got a job as an assistant professor at Skidmore College, which is an upstate New York, but an hour from Vermont.
And, realized. I could call those guys and say, I loved your presentation and I'm a new professor and I need to do research and publish things so you, you know, do you need any help? Can I do something? And and they were, they welcomed it, and said, We, we started this thing, we gotta evaluate it. In fact, it's a statewide program and we really have no idea like what's going on, on the ground.
so I was able to spend a few years working closely with them. And I would say even at that time, which is like 1997, they hadn't really figured out the phrase restorative justice yet. They invented their own term for this, which is called record of probation. And other people then said to them, Wow, what a great restorative justice program you've created.
David Karp (he/him): And they're like, Thank you. you know, we didn't know. and then they fully embraced it. So that's, that program, because of its early start, got a lot of attention nationally, even internationally. People were coming to Vermont to visit and see what they were doing, how their process worked, and then they started to compare it with what was happening in Australia, with conference, that had already migrated over to England and a couple places in the us.
And so it was a, I think it was a, a pretty cool time for innovation. and it was clear that the motivation for Vermont was, financial, basically, like they were. this was knee deep into the mass incarceration era, and judges were sending more and more people, to, to prison. And Vermont didn't have enough space and they had another jail, or they had to do something different and they really just didn't want to, you know, do do more prison.
and these guys, like John Perry, you know, were really thinking about what, what could we do differently? And their inspiration didn't come from, you know, reading about indigenous justice practices. in fact it is much more rooted, but it really comes from Vermont's, civic democracy tradition of engaging the community at the town level in.
David Karp (he/him): decisions about what should happen in the community. And so they were really inspired by this, what was called like a shire model, you know, a little bit talking.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah.
David Karp (he/him): But they, their shires in Vermont. and, and that, that kind of localism was meaningful and that they would go to communities and say, People from your community are going to be sentenced to jail.
What if we put those decisions in your hands instead of in judge's hands? Would you do the same thing or something different? You know, overwhelmingly as they were coming up with, you know, kind of grassroots or homegrown restorative solutions that would, that fully recognize that, quitting someone in jail was not gonna, change them in a way so that when they got back to the community, They were gonna be in a better place.
Like they really recognized that they wanted their, their neighbors to be better off at the end of whatever process they designed. And so it was really facilitative and focused, but also attentive to addressing the harms caused to, you know, particular crime victims and, and for community and involving, the community in that process.
So it, it was very eye opening for me. and I, at the same time I got, I got connected to, Mark U. And Gordon B. Who were professors who were running a federal juvenile justice restorative justice project called Barge or the Balance and Restorative Justice Project. And, they taught me all about what was happening nationally, at that time, with restorative justice around. Rethinking the juvenile justice system. So, that's, that's how I, that's how I figured out what was going.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. I want to go back, to something you said a couple minutes ago, you know, this framework of reparative probation. What about that as a sociologist was mesmerizing for you?
David Karp (he/him): That's a great question. So, in, in sociology, particularly within criminology, there's been a longstanding recognition that there are two ways to, promote appropriate behavior, non-criminal behavior. and the, the distinction is between formal social control and informal social control, and formal is, you know, police, courts, prisons, and it's external and it's, it's very costly.
And the research just pretty clear that it doesn't work that well.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): And that's much, much more influential than formal. Social control is informal social control, and that means, the influence that friends, family, teachers, neighbors have on, engaging with someone in a way that, holds them accountable.
And it's, it's less through punishment and more through, belong, fundamentally belonging, social, belong.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): like we approve or disapprove of your behavior. If we disapprove your, the status that you have in our community is in jeopardy. You may not be able to continue to belong to our community. You might be exiled in some way from our community and then like in traditional.
Indigenous communities, which was very real, like exile was, a terrifying prospect, right? Like life and death in terms of survival when you depend on the family group system, being able to cooperate and work with the system, with the community was essential. And, and if you couldn't cooperate, you had no place in that community.
So there's just a lot of research about how informal social control matters. And there was, also connected to Vermont a guy in the social work program, Gale B. who along with Joan P. we're studying family group conferencing and in New Zealand and brought it to Canada. And this was around child welfare.
and their model was very clearly embedded in this informal social control model. The original family group, conferencing model, as it got translated from the ma was, the, the, the welfare system and the court system would be represented, in those decisions. Initially, they would meet with the family, let's say it's around, child moves or domestic violence.
And they're making decisions about custody arrangements and, and so they. They would be presenting to the family about the services that might be available, like the, alcohol substance abuse treatment available, but also the legal consequences of violating restraining orders or whatever there might be.
So, carrots and sticks were, you know, kind of there. But, they would leave the, the, the decision making group was the family. So they would sort of present like, here's the deal, here's all what, here are all the things that might happen, your services available, but come up with your own plan. And then they release, and for hours, the family or the extended family would sit in circle and work up a plan that was organized around informal social control.
So, in other words, you know, dad would go move in with the uncle. For three months. And you would see the children only when grandma was there and they made sure that he wasn't drinking. and that, you know, those kinds of arrangements really can only be monitored and it enacted by the family. Like the probation officer isn't gonna have the time or wherewithal to go, Is it 8:00 PM on Thursday?
That's the visiting time. Or, you know, is grandma home? You know, like all of these things that have to happen in a tight knit, family. So that, that, that became part of the equation recognition that these informal systems are very powerful. And there was a lot, particularly at that time of focus on the role of, shame and exclusion.
In restorative processes, like, helping someone understand the impact, the negative impact that they're having on their family, on crime victims of whomever, should elicit a level of shame and embarrassment and guilt and hurt and remorse, and that, that becomes a motivation for change. But it's only a motivation for change if there's a clear pathway provided, like, here's how you can take responsibility for this.
We have a plan that's workable, we'll support you. And, enacting that plan and that chain gets transformed, right, ultimately into pride and a sense of place and a, a sense of. A removal of that, that stigma, you know, and shame. and so one regains the place in the community, so that I think that emotion work was really central early on.
and that's really what the informal social control was all about.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. What that assumes is that there is a relationship that's valued in the first place, right? And so when we're talking about families, that definitely translates pretty well when we talk about, communities where there are established strong relationships that the person who has caused harm value, that works really well.
You know, you and I both are in this place where, you know, restorative justice has been, and frameworks around restorative justice have been used to repair so much harm and. There is such a need to make sure that there are those, relationships that are valued in the first place. When we, when we scale it up, we're gonna revisit those ideas.
just a second, but this idea of, Oh dang. The phrasing that you used, like informal was informal social control. Right? those are so powerful and like, whether or not shame like guilt and shame, like are helpful for any given situation. It kind of goes back to, what you were talking about, with, Gandhi and nonviolence or king and nonviolence.
David Ryan (he/him): When you're confronted with like the harm that you're causing and is this in alignment with like, how you wanna be in the world. That can be, that can be really effective. There's also ways where shaming can not be very effective , but, when you're calling people and to be in alignment with their values or, you know, the way that they want to be in the world could be so helpful.
When you, when you first shared the story of this happening in Vermont. and, when I think of Vermont and then when I think of the demographics of Vermont, I think about, a pretty homogeneous white, community group. It reminds me of a conversation that we had with Tonya Covington about the way that, every restorative process played out in a specific neighborhood in New Mexico where, you know, these, white teenagers, you know, caused a lot of havoc and destruction in a neighborhood, and people were like, No, we don't want these kids to.
Have their lives ruined. we wanna figure out a way for them to repair. And the community members had access to their grades, right? For the next however many years. they were invited to their graduations and, and all that kind of thing. It was like a really beautiful thing that happened. And I'm so curious, like if the dynamics of that situation would've been different if the kids weren't white.
Right. I'm curious, like if the demo, the, the way that that program manifested would've been different, if Vermont was not such a homogeneous place, whether people would be, whether the ethic of like community and, we take care of ourselves, we take care of each other, would've been the same in a more, diverse, in a diverse place.
I mean, we can't like, go back and project, but
David Karp (he/him): Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean, well, it just raises the challenge, you know, Can, can there be enough? What you're talking about fundamentally is trust, right? Mm-hmm. and that we're using race as a proxy for trust, like, If, one white Vermonter sees another white Vermonter in their community, are they gonna be more trusting than if they see a non-white Vermonter?
Right? And if they're pretty much all white, they're gonna be like, Okay, we can all work together. so can you, create that level of trust in a more heterogeneous community? is the, you know, that's the challenge of our country, right? Like, there are other countries that are very homogeneous and they really rely on that, for their sense of unity and identity.
And, in this country, tries, tries not to do that, or at least some portion of our country aspires to that. and another portion of the country, you know, wants that simple tool of, you know, like white pride or something. so, but, but it, you know, if it's an all Latinx community or you know, like an all black community, you get similar patterns of trust, right?
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): Like, I get you, I see you, I get you. you know, and so I, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt or I want to see you succeed. you know, so race matters, definitely. Class matters too. You know, Vermont is a pretty poor state. Like they just, you know, they don't have a, there's not a lot of money in the state of Vermont, so class dynamics factoring all of these.
So even that there can be trust through whiteness, you know, there's often distrust through class, divide and, and so there are always gonna be ways in which just create in groups and outgroups. And, and I think one of the, you know, like, like the basic methodological strategies of restorative justice is to create situations that help break down some of those England divisions and help people see each other and walk more authentically.
The same thing. You know, coming back to that is always about, separating the act from the person.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): Did a really terrible thing, but we're gonna declare out loud, we don't think you are a terrible person. That is, we think you're redeemable, and that you can do things that will win back, you know, our trust in you.
But our, you know, like trust is gone right now. Like you've done things that make us really unhappy and,but it's not. Right. Cause we're not seeing it as fundamental law in your character or a flaw in your tribe. we're seeing this as, you know, a person who's either made a mistake or done things like very intentionally trapped within a set of circumstances that are pretty, compelling, and or mitigating.
And, and then we can, we can try to change those condit. Yeah.
David Ryan (he/him): I'm curious how, like you took all of this observation, this research that you were doing as a sociologist and you know, brought that into practice in your context of Skidmore. Right? For those that knew the name David Cart, before you clicked onto this podcast, you probably know of his work within the realm of restorative justice for colleges and universities.
He wrote the little book on it. Right. how did you translate those ideas that you had been observing, you'd been researching into the context that you were at?
David Karp (he/him): That you, it happened almost right away. because it was 1998 that I started at Skidmore and, you know, knocked on Corrections Door in Vermont.
and, one of the first projects that I did there was a quantitative, like evaluation data. But there was also a qualitative project that I did, which was super fun. And I, I spent about six months driving around Vermont with Skidmore students and a, you know, video camera. And we were recording, these, restorative meetings, these community record board meetings and trying to puzzle out like what was inside the black box.
David Karp (he/him): Like corrections had set up this program, but they knew they were bringing the community victims, these probationers together. but they didn't really know, they had like parameters, like, Here's what we'd like you to try to do, but they didn't know how it would unfold. So we spent time just, dissecting, in terms of what was, what were the common themes?
What do they talk about? What do they, where are the glitches, you know, what happens when it goes off the rails? So I had a collection of videos and, in 1999, Skidmore's students were in a bit of an uproar about our student conduct process, which they found to be overly punitive and one, one good way to know if people like or dislike a process is how many appeals are filed.
And if there's an appeal in every case, it means that people are unhappy with the outcome every time. and so there were a lot of appeals and I was invited to be on a committee with students and, administrators and faculty to rethink our disciplinary system. And I knew nothing about, campus conduct administration.
You know, I, I didn't have any particular interest in. Campus based ReSTOR Justice. but that was the charge. And I basically turned to the committee and said, Do you, you all wanna watch some of these video tapes? I have because it's a kind of similar process to what we're talking about here. And we basically just adopted the Vermont model for student misconduct on campus.
And it's, that started in, in the year 2000. And then I was actually back in Vermont for a conference and I was presenting at this conference to like some video clips, some bloopers, some, you know, like best stuff clips from, record reports. And they had also invited this guy, Tom Alina, to be a presenter.
And we ended up at the same lunch table. And he told me that, he had just trained, University of Colorado Boulder in restorative practices and that they had launched a restorative program in 1999. So it's just now 2000, you know, one or two. so we were aware that Skidmore and Boulder were the, the only two programs at that time doing anything with restorative justice and
you know, I started to learn more about what they were doing and how it was different. And then we started working together. We published the book back in 2004. That was an edited volume, sharing stories from different campuses doing, restorative justice and raising issues around, you know, how could it go further other than like a simple, this kid pulled the fire alarm, to, you know, biased incidents that they were simply called hate crimes back then.
you know, more serious offenses. And, and then we just started, educating other campuses. It just kind of grew from there. So I, I just got increasingly interested, in, its applications on campus and I became a dean, for some years it stayed more where I was in a position where I could do more of it on the ground and not just talk about it and write about it.
and that was really helpful. So, now I'm just aware of so many programs across the country, which is, is, That's pretty cool.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. So quickly wanting to shout out restorative justice on college campuses, colon promoting student growth and responsibilities in reawakening the spirit of campus community 2004, but correct.
David Karp (he/him): Yes.
David Ryan (he/him): And then, and then the little book of restorative justice on college campuses is the one that has been more college and universities, Right. Is the one that has been, more widely circulated. So if folks wanna, you know, learn more about the, the details of like, the thing that you're researching, just plugging your books really quick.
but when you, as you started in that process of implementing these, this model of conferencing for these, for these incidents of whether they were bias, students pulling fire alarms, more serious things, how did that go? How, you know, you went from a process where people were appealing left and right.
David Ryan (he/him): What was the transformation that took place?
David Karp (he/him): it went surprisingly smoothly. you know, like not surprisingly, students were very happy. To have this different model in front of them. and it was primarily student led.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): Meaning they, that we trained students to facilitate, these restorative processes.
There was a mix, you know, there was faculty and staff involved, but there was always a student, you know, leading facilitator. And, and so it became, a really cool growth experience for students and a way for them to be involved in a, you know, in the community in a meaningful way. So we had a lot of students support, and I think on most campuses that's really the key to success for any program.
there, there were people who, were skeptical. you know, certainly like our, our campus safety department, you know, these were like a lot. Campus safety departments are led by, retired police and they have, you know, much more of a traditional long order orientation things. and it took them, you know, it took them longer to embrace it.
but they did. and one of the ways that, you know, was compelling for them was that they never, they traditionally don't have a role in a conduct process. So campus police will investigate and file a report
David Ryan (he/him): M-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): And then they, you know, and then it goes again like the black box and they don't know what happens.
And so they usually assume nothing happens like that their, their good we is unrewarded because all those like soft liberal administrators are just gonna let the kid off and, you know, send them back to their residents hall. but we started involving those campus safety officers primarily as farmed parties.
And they got to tell their stories in ways that they never got to. So they weren't serving as witnesses that would provide evidence to find student in violation. They were just sharing what it was like. you know, like I remember an early case that actually got their attention was that there were, there the, a campus safety vehicle that was on an emergency call and they were trying to get to a campus department and there was a, this was on a Friday or Saturday night and, you know, late and lot of students out and about partying.
And there were a crowd of students in the road blocking the path, for, you know, for them to get through. And, They were really, you know, they were really emp up because they were trying to respond to an emergency. But there was this crowd that was goofing around laughing, not, you know, like, ha we're stopping campus safety and going, you know, camp campus police, Campo students refer to them.
and, two of the students climbed up on their car, you know, were sitting on the hood and they were just making a big joke of it. And, you know, they got through. and, and so we did a restorative process and they got to share what, like, what was up for them, what, what that incident was. They weren't getting to in time how serious that was and their frustration and their worry.
David Karp (he/him): And they didn't wanna plow through the students and they didn't have a good way to communicate to the students the urgency of the situation. And, it was interesting, that the two students, who had climbed onto the hood, one of the students chose not to participate in the restorative process and the other did.
And, the one who did was really, you know, very remorseful, especially, when she heard what this situation was and, you know, was really back to shame, like really ashamed to herself or her role in this. And, and they really got it and they accepted her apology. And I, I can't remember what the, if there was a, a plan or, something, some restorative measures that would put in place.
but that, that was a very helpful moment for them. And then interestingly, we had a process that if you, refuse to engage in the, in process, you're, you're essentially suspending yourself like you're, If you're unwilling to engage with the college, they have to suspend you. So, you know, it's like up to you, like you can come to this thing or not, but it, and so they were very surprised that they themselves were interested in just having basically an apology from the student who showed up and the suspension for the student didn't.
David Karp (he/him): And that, that messed with their heads because they're, they're usually about equality, like, you know, equality before the law, like same crime, same sentence. And here you're getting very different outcomes for the same act. But because of the way the students were engaging in it so differently and they started to recognize, wow, we could have influence on students in a very different way as a result of it.
So, even when we had some early re. it was often overcome simply by engaging them, the process. And not just to add to that, but another thing we did was, invite our, district attorney to our restorative process, so that we could engage him in a conversation about what to do when students got arrested, downtown.
And could they go through our restorative process instead of being prosecuted. And we were able to craft, an MOU with the, the DA's office that basically said if students successfully went through our restorative process. And he said at the time, you guys are doing way more than we would do with our sentences.
so yeah, we'll take yours over to our. so he saw the value and if they, so if they engaged in our restorative processes and successfully completed the terms, they would dismiss, or, you know, they would basically dismiss the charges. so we're able to work with, you know, with the system and, and, you know, in some meaningful ways, early on.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. I don't know if you sensed it, when you talked about like, and then we brought campus security in, I was like, Oh, and then like explaining that like, not as witnesses, but as, as, or like as invest, but as like people who have been impacted, like as people, Right. who have been impacted.
Like that is something that like helped one. The person who caused harm in any given situation, like see the impact, right? Like that, that was important. Like community members have been impacted by your actions, but too, like having people who are, campus security, in this case, officers of the law, in other cases, like be included as individuals, who have been impacted, not just like as the person representing, like the badge and all of that, is a way that like we can help get quote, unquote buy in, right?
when people feel that sense of belonging to a community. I thought that was really beautiful. The other thing that I really appreciated when you, you're talking about like Theona, the involvement with the DA's office, I was like, ugh. Again, like. And I, I want to invite people like, this was on like a slightly separate and different podcast.
I did a crossover between the other podcast that I ran for a while, called Diversity and Inclusion Revolution, or Reform with Xavier Ramy. That episode, and I can link it in the show notes for folks. we talked about, you know, like reformist reforms or abolitionist reforms, right? Like, are we using reforms that are giving the, are we using reforms to make the system more powerful, or are we using reforms that will give, control back to the community, right?
David Ryan (he/him): And when you're addressing the DAs and saying like, Hey, we're gonna do this. We're gonna do this better than you. We're gonna take this off of your plate and like, return the, the power decision making and all that, like, to our community where we can actually support these, these students in one, getting their needs met.
Because when people cause harm, there are often needs that they have, but two, actually repairing the harm, as opposed to like, you know, fine. Probation, jail time, whatever it would've been on that end, that that's a really, really productive and generative thing. So just thanks for that story and that, like, those were the things that like really stood out for me.
David Karp (he/him): I think that, you know, I, so shout out to, Tom Alina, who I, co-edited the book and had helped start the program in Boulder. He told me a story, which I think is the first case of, you know, restorative justice case on a college campus. that, you know, that he, he did, you know, and it speaks to all of this.
At the time he was working for the New Jersey courts. I'm not sure what he was doing exactly, but he, he had read an article by Howard there, this is the 1987 or something, about, you know, he read an article about restorative justice. And, and then he, a case came through of a student who, who was, Montclair State University, New Jersey at the time.
It's now the College of New Jersey. and it was a football player, African American football player who had been in a drunk driving accident. And, his girlfriend and his best friend were killed, he was driving. And, so that was a, simultaneously a criminal case. And that the campus case, you know, that they, the campus needs to decide, you know, suspending, expelling, what are they, what are they doing in response to this.
And, Tom called, the defense. I think it was the defense attorney, one of the defense attorneys, or you know, for him and said, I just read this article about this thing called restorative justice, and I think it would be really good for this case. And the guy's like, Well, what is it and how do you do it?
He's like, I have no idea. Like, but let's try and figure it out. And he ended up meeting with the parents of the, you know, one of the kids who was killed. And, and basically the parents said, you know, it was really lucky to draw who was driving. They were all drunk. And, they, they wouldn't have wanted to see their friends go to prison over this.
Like, they would want them to take responsibility and, you know, basically live, you know, like three good lives, you know. And that process influenced, I think influenced the, the criminal sentence. meaning it lightened it dramatically. And enabled the student to, I think the student was automatically expelled or something like that, but was able to, become readmitted and complete his degree.
and so, you know, there are way, Anyway, that's all to say there, there are ways in which the, the systems can work collaboratively and that we can, involve, you know, the harm community in some really meaningful way. so I think that's the first example of a, of a college student case.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, formally at least, right? When you and I, before this call, before we started recording, Like, what is the thing that we wanna make sure that we talk about and right. It's like, so far we've been talking about all of the ways that, like, we've used like restorative paradigms to like resolve harm, resolve conflict, address, hurt, bring people back into community.
To your point about, you know, trust being the thing, that exists within homogeneous communities like Vermont, right? making people like more willing to engage in like a process like this, right? The, the students, like the passengers in that car are being his best friend and, his girlfriend, right?
Those parents of those, young people are like way more likely to have empathy. for, for this person, the thing that we said that we wanted to talk. It was like, how do we make sure that restorative justice is not just limited to that like, repair of harm process? How do we make sure that we are building relationships, building containers, building trust proactively?
So of course, we are preventing more harm in the first place, but when harm happens, we're much more likely to be willing to engage in these processes with the people who have, been harmed and, cause harm.
David Karp (he/him): You know, when, restorative justice made the leap from, you know, in contemporary applications of restorative justice made the leap from it, just in criminal legal system to educational systems, primarily K-12 schools, I, that was such a pivotal moment for this question because schools have been, Responsible for building learning communities and safe communities and caring for children, making sure that they're, learning, not just, you know, the, the lessons, but learning life skills.
and schools are, unfortunately, schools are really the repository repo sport. all social, you know, a lot of social services and trying to make up for, a lot of things that are happening in communities, you know, where kids come to school without breakfast or can't afford lunch, or, you know, need, need social work, need social workers on campus.
David Karp (he/him): And they know they have all kinds of needs. And so the recognition that schools aren't just places for academic learning, automatically pushes us into this question of how, how do we live together? How do we. work together, and teachers have to do this every day in the classroom. They, the first thing they have to do is build, a container where learning can happen.
And if it's chaos, learning can't happen. And so they have to build relationships. They have to build, you know, or they go really authoritarian, right? So you're in trouble for, you know, whatever, closing your eyes or opening your eyes or turning to your left, or turning to your, you know, so restorative justice in schools is really taking up that question.
How, and so that's why circle practices becomes so important in school communities is that they just create the space for, people to make the transition from their external lives to the classroom to see each other, appreciate each other, solve problems together. and then as you. When bigger problems happen, have a methodology in place that, you know, it's always like a marker of success when it's the students who say, We need a circle, right?
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah.
David Karp (he/him): We, they're looking for, this method that they're familiar with to resolve issues that they, they feel like they can handle all by themselves. you're absolutely right. You can't really be successful with restorative justice if it's only reactive and in, criminal justice.
It's, you know, that system is designed to be reactive and not blook back. And so it's inherently blaming and our work, and schools should help us in, you know, help inform how these systems could change, you know, for the better. Like, we see some of that, even just the changes with policing, where we have, mental health.
workers doing early intervention, being first responders as opposed to cops, you know, is a recognition that we need to engage in very different ways and we need to have people who can build trust and, not just in gender resistance,
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. In the work that you were doing at Skidmore, how did you help, like ingratiate those values, those practices beyond just like, and this is what we do in student conduct.
David Karp (he/him): You know, we did, like, for example, for years, and worked with another really skilled or restorative practitioner, Duke Fisher.
we, we worked with our orientation program. And we, Atmore had a preorientation program that about half the incoming first year students would participate in. And that was like a few days of basically fun before the semester started so that students could acclimate and make friends before they have to get daily from homework.
David Karp (he/him): And Skidmore has first year seminars.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): And faculty all teach these first year seminars. And along with those seminars, faculty are able to select a peer mentor who is an, a more senior student who, becomes a peer mentor for the first year students. And, works with the faculty member alongside in that seminar and does a lot of things outside the classroom as well.
And, those peer mentors every year were selected through fairly traditional means, meaning they're selected because of their very high academic success and their very high social involvement. So their, you know, class presidents and student, you know, leaders on campus. So they're very extroverted, socially confident, academically successful.
And we did these amazing circles with those peer mentors, preparing them for the arrival of students. And one of the questions in circle round questions that we asked was, given what we've learned about the challenges that students arrive on campus with, whether it's like an eating disorder or the parents just divorced or they've got financial.
panic or they have a learning disability or, you know, like all the many things that could derail someone from succeeding as they transitioned college. we did a circle and said, How can you be a resource, for each other as other peer mentors? and around the circle, all these students would say all of those things.
David Karp (he/him): You know, I'm a child of divorce. I come from a home, you know, with domestic violence. My, I'm a DACA student and, you know, my, my parents are on the edge of being deported. And it was just so striking to me that those students who we thought of as our, you know, our top students who live perfect lives, there's no such thing.
And that they saw how their own stories would be a, You know, like a, a touchstone for other peer mentors who could lean on it and say like, I found a student with this situation and I know you have experience with this. Can you help me? Would you be willing to have a conversation with this student?
You know? And, it was just a surprise to me that we're, we don't know the depth of the resources available and we can reframe what we would normally think of as, you know, people's flaws. and instead they become incredible opportunities, for connection, and influence.
David Ryan (he/him): In that relationship building to start, like getting people to share their stories, getting people to know that like, Hey, Me too, right?
Like, that is such a powerful, that's such a powerful way to prevent crises from happening, right? Like these problems exist, but if I have someone who I know I can like, go to, to help walk me through this or like walk with me as I go through this, or who's been through a similar situation and can offer me guidance, like that can prevent so many crises, right?
Where people like are floundering and don't know how to access those things and like try to get those needs met in ways that are destructive to themselves and sometimes maybe others. That's beautiful. I'm curious, like if that was like intentionally, like you talked about like the way that it was in orientation, like how were you like following up on that throughout the rest of the year and the way that the, this program was structured?
David Karp (he/him): I think ideally you, it would start with orientation and I'm, I'm super happy with USD, where we do a lot of circles for incoming students. at the beginning. and other campuses are doing that too. that would be followed by, you know, restorative practices in other sub communities so that you are training.
There are so many sub communities within a campus community,
David Ryan (he/him): Of course.
David Karp (he/him): Life or fraternities and sororities or athletic teams or, you know, multicultural clubs, various sports. and so if you have places that are, you know, basically safety zones for students, and those are places where they know they can tell their stories and have some sense of privacy and, social support.
you know, that's how you build trust in communities. We had,one of, my, master students graduated this past spring means, Monique. Works in our, psychology and neuroscience department, and she posted a series of circles for faculty on, their white identity and to build comfort in talking about issues of race in their classes and how to rethink their syllabi so that they can,be more inclusive in, you know, in the framing of things.
David Karp (he/him): And it's just creating spaces that people, really do appreciate, that often gets them over, you know, over an edge where there was hesitation or resistance or unwillingness. And, you know, with that support, we, we can just, we can have better classrooms, we can have better communities, whether they're, you know, sororities or, You know, academic clubs, whatever it may be.
there, there's a lot happening. so I'm interested in also the academic side too, like why these are, these are questions that circle around in my head all the time. Like, why do attorneys have to learn about restorative justice? You know, once they're deep into the field, why isn't it taught in law school?
David Karp (he/him): Why do teachers have to learn about restorative justice once they're in classrooms and not being teacher education or social workers, you know, or, criminal justice students. so how, how do we get this embedded within, you know, the curriculum? So when we think about a campus community, we really think about what people are studying, how they're studying it, like circles in classroom.
and then their lives in their community, whether it's students and how in living on campus or faculty and faculty meetings or staff, you know, in union meetings. there are all kinds of ways in which we're living our lives on campus. And I would say that at first I kind of, it was a fluke that I got involved in restorative practices on campus, but ultimately it was a realization that for me, it was part of my, you know, like living restoratively in the Howards kind of way.
like I live on campus. I mean, I come to campus every day. I think about campus life all the time as a faculty member. I'm in, you know, classrooms with students. I'm in relationship with campus people. So could that be a restorative community for me? or abs a restorative. Justice, academic, you know, can I align the, my, my topical interest area, with the, my campus community?
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. I'm curious. Well, a number of things. One, like, you know, you've made the migration across the country. We made that migration at the same time, from, from east to west. We're both in California. You're at the University of San Diego. Not to be confused with UC San Diego, I've made that mistake a couple of times.
but, you know, you're, you're a professor, you're heading up this center. and they're infinite applications to where restorative justice, restorative practices, these circle ways of being can be quote unquote implemented in campus life. I want to touch on like the work of the center in a second, but like, I'm curious, like as a professor, right, like.
David Ryan (he/him): Of leadership studies. and you can explain what that means cuz I just did heavy air quotes. like how are you bringing that into the academics of how you're preparing your students to, to navigate the leadership world?
David Karp (he/him): Well, I'm a sociologist by training and I had no idea what leadership studies was when I first arrived, frankly.
And I think we're all sort of figuring it out because it's not a traditional discipline. Which means it's interdisciplinary by nature. And so you have, you know, you have sociologists and you have economists, and you have psychologists, you know, all kinds of folks with different backgrounds, making sense of what leadership is all about.
And we have a fairly, critical, in the good sense of the word, take on leadership studies. That is, we're we're primarily focused on, grassroots leadership for leadership that is, you know, non-hierarchical in its focus and leadership of nonprofits and leadership of educational systems.
so, you know, how do you lead well? And so for me, two questions keep coming up that are basic restoring questions like for a leader, you know, can you lead in a way that builds community, that that helps an organization or a team or, or school, you know, work well and thrive together. So that's a fundamental restorative practice, right?
David Karp (he/him): Circles or community building. And then as a leader, how can you, effectively respond to conflicting. Those were standard responsibilities of leaders is responding, you know, successfully to that. And we have answers to that in restorative justice. So leadership studies for me is just another way of talking about restorative justice.
but that framing is, helpful to me because I think largely in the restorative justice movement, we're good at training facilitators, but not other aspects of, restorative justice leadership. Like, building a program, changing policy lobbying, advocacy, evaluation assessment. You know, like, all these things that keep a restorative organization going, are not the things we teach in a, in a skill building training.
David Karp (he/him): And in fact, the people that are drawn to restorative justice, Are probably natural facilitators and may not have skills in these other areas and really need support. So we, that's what we are doing here. at USD Art, kind of our main, we offer training, but we recognize that training is insufficient and that our trainings were and are still limited by two things.
One is that when you offer a skill building training, even if it's a multi-day, you know, four days, people come to the training without basic knowledge of restorative justice and you have to spend a lot of time teaching about restorative justice. And then you also bump into people's resistance or re skepticism.
And so you have to spend time, overcoming this or working with it. and so that just takes away from skills working. And then on the other side of the training, people leave the training. And even if they have a fabulous life changing experience, they go back to wherever they're from. And that doesn't mean they can immediately implement or will have the opportunities to use those skills they just developed.
And so, we designed our, certificate program as a three-core sequence to address those. Like a what is restorative justice course, that's the academic one, and then a skill building intensive to learn how, and then a practiced them, that's designed to support new apprentice RJ facilitators in developing their skills and becoming more confident.
As well as becoming leaders and either sustaining or building, new programs in whatever sector they're in. And we get a lot of people from different systems. So you get some from a, you know, from a hospital or from a nonprofit organization versus probation or a elementary school. So they're going, they're, they're, they're coming from a variety of contexts and they go back and they often have the same question of like, What do I do now?
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): I need help and I need help in people who are in similar context of, you know, with need. So we have a network of, mentors who help them, who have particular expertise in whatever area they're, they're trying to work in. So we have, a certificate program and that raises all kinds of questions about professionalization and, elite is, And we're sensitive to that.
And it's a, it's a true conundrum, because we're trying not to be, exclusive and we also recognize that there's a lot to learn and that, people are hungry for information and hungry for support. and so we're, we're, as best we can, trying to be sensitive to that. And, so we offer a lot of that.
Our solution is we spend a lot of time creating a strong scholarship program. and so we offer a lot of scholarships for people to participate in our certificate program.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): And our program is for graduate students here at USD. and they can do the certificate as part of their degrees Master's or PhD program, or.
people can do it through our professional certificate. So they're not affiliated with USD, but they're, like I said, a teacher or a probation officer or an assistant district attorney or whomever. and they want the skills and so they can, they can do our program as well. We get, of course, because we're now for higher education, we get a lot of administrators and faculty from across the country who wanna bring Restorative justice to their campuses.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. there, there's no doubt that there is like, so much to learn for somebody who is like trying to step into this work. And so much of the things to learn are like readily available to you with like Google searches, or at least like academic journal searches or like on YouTube videos or on podcasts.
What is also like so crucial to learning this way of being right, is that. Practice of one sitting in space with people, being able to feel what that feels like to both hold space and be held in that space. And then like, the practice of facilitation, you talked about the mentorship aspect of all of this.
What does that look like?
David Karp (he/him): Well, it begins with, with our second course, Well, really it's throughout. So in our first course we have a lot of interviews with different practitioners and ideas that you should do that course, see people that resonate with you. so it's a, it's a very diverse group in, in every sense of that word, in terms of like the kind of work they do and where they come from and their perspective, their backgrounds.
And the second course, the training team tries to draw from like, you know, a, a variety of practitioners to the skills, but it really is in the third course where. We have, we, we develop communities of practice so that K12 people get clustered together, for people who are specifically interested in RJ for sexual harm get clustered together.
And so they're a community of practice, meaning their studying and learning and practicing together and they're learning. We get people like they're not babies, you know, these are advanced, skilled, wise people who have a lot to offer, even if they're new to particulars of restorative justice. and, and so they're learning from each other and supporting each other and bouncing ideas off each other.
And then they're, they're connected with a mentor who is, got a lot of experience in that particular area. So it's sexual harm Title IX on college campuses, or have somebody. Built a program, done a lot of cases, who is working with that particular group and that they can they can get ongoing support from as they, as, you know, as they try things out or as they try, gain traction on their campus or, or whatever the context is.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. If people want to learn more about this program, all that you have going on at USD, University of San Diego, we'll link it in the show notes, but where should they go? What they, what should they look out for?
David Karp (he/him): Yeah, just go to our website. That's the easiest. So it's SanDiego.edu/RJ.
It's very simple, but yeah, please put it in the show notes. I think you can Google us and our website shares what trainings we're offering and more about the certificate program. We're hoping to build a master, program in the restorative justice. And we also have PhD students who are, that's what, you know, because RJ is not a discipline.
If somebody wants to get a PhD and focus on rj, then where do we go? You know? So yeah, go find somebody like me who knows about RJ and, can support them. so we have PhD students who are doing their dissertations on restorative justice, which is really fantastic.
David Ryan (he/him): Well, thank you so much for everything that you shared. We'll be back with the questions that everybody answers when they come on this restorative just as life right after this. all right, we've talked around this, David, but I don't think we've gotten an answer in your own words.
Define restorative justice.
David Karp (he/him): You know, restorative justice is, you know, as a way to prevent Penn respond to harm. And I think both that prevention aspect needs to get, built in, through some kind of collaborative process that really puts the people most impacted at the center, and be a process in which they're able to, design or customize a response that best meets their needs.
So I think that. That, that's the, that's as close as I can get. It doesn't really speak to, you know, individual versus structural harm, but that's part of it. Right. Recognizing that harm occurs on many levels and that restorative justice is a velocity that takes harm seriously. And, and enables people to think about harms so they can be, redefined as a set of needs and then as a set of solutions to address those needs.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. As you've been doing this work, what has been an "oh shit" moment and what have you learned from it often? it's like a mistake or something that like you wish you'd done differently. people have also taken, this is like an "Aw shit, yeah, I did that and it was great." so whichever way do you want to answer that.
David Karp (he/him): So you're asking for an "oh shit" moment.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): Yeah. you know, I think like a good example is, you know, the challenge of, representing was restorative justice accurately. So we could think about the indigenous roots and recognize that's part of the story, right? Indigenous part of it.
Religious roots, menon, you know, Mennonite roots, or Vermont, you know, Shires and, civic engagement as, you know, a root story. so for example, I often would think about Barry Stewart as a, you know, a judge and a leader in developing sentencing circles originally, as they were called, working with Kate Brown.
and, and somebody at a training once said, Can you name any of the indigenous people that developed this program with Barry Stewart? And that was an "oh shit" moment for me. Because I was definitely centering the white guy and didn't really have a story or had not taken the time to try to learn more about that context.
David Karp (he/him): And that's, you know, and that was, it made sense, right? Like I, it made sense for all the, like, you know, white supremacy and all that kind of stuff, but also because I'm a white guy and I was like, I could, you know, like, wouldn't it be cool if I could do something like Barry Stewart, Like I could identify with him in ways that I couldn't, you know, like I can't be an indigenous leader.
so my brain didn't go there. So I think just those moments where recognizing my own bias, And how that translates into the way I teach about restorative justice is, those are important moments.
David Ryan (he/him): That begs the question. Now, can you name an indigenous leader who helped co-construct, those, those processes with Barry Stewart?
David Karp (he/him): Yeah. There, well, there, you know, there's, a number of them. He, he of course wrote a book with Mark Wedge, who's, you know, was central, and then there's, there two brothers, the cats and bees and others. So, I don't know the whole, I I mean, like stuff's not written down.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah.
David Karp (he/him): So I, you know, beyond that, I don't know, but you know, like there's some cool stories to, pay close attention to.
Like, Rupert Ross's book, returning to teachings about collar water, I think is a really good one. He's not an indigenous person, but, I think that's a, that's a really good one. My, former PhD student who's now a professor at Cal State Long Beach, TJ Reed,wrote a really good article about, circle practices from an indigenous, like the indigenous history of circle practices, basically.
it's kind of a review article, but that in the show notes too.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah, that would be cool. Absolutely. And I mean, I think it speaks to not just like David didn't know, right, But like the, the way that, indigenous folks have continued to be erased, like both in the way that this documented and in the way that like we, who have been socialized in Western context, and I'll include myself in this, right.
Learn or document learning. Right? and there are infinite ways for us to continue to push back on those and continue to name elders and those who have carried the work forward. this question is difficult in a different way. you get to sit in circle with four people, dead or alive. Who are they?
And what is the question you ask? The circle?
David Karp (he/him): Yeah. Jeepers. Well, we did start this whole conversation with, Gandhi and, and, Martin Luther King. Like that would be pretty amazing. yeah. So that's two, right? I have two more.
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): seems like, it would be like some, you know, like, I think I would want to pick some of these unnamed. Leaders, you know, like the ones who weren't listed and aren't the go-tos, like Ghandi and King, you know, like they're easy references. And so maybe it would be, you know, I, so I don't have the names, but mm-hmm.
be like that, you know, that grandmother who, knows restorative justice in her bones and, but you know, hasn't put pen to page, because of their circumstances. the question I'm interested in those like, when did you know, when was it right for you? Cause if you read like, biography of Gandhi, you know, he didn't start out as Gandhi.
and you know, there those, I'm interested in those pivotal moments where he was like, He was seeing the, in injustice, he was in South Africa and he was, he was being a lawyer fighting, you know, in an adversary way. And so I wanna know about those moments when he's like, Oh, this doesn't work and I think there's something better.
so that's what I would wanna hear.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah. Maybe I didn't do a good job in asking this at the beginning, but what was that moment for you?
David Karp (he/him): You know, there is a, there are many, there are many, but there was, there at one important moment for me was back when we were recording videos in Vermont and I was talking the camera and I heard a story. Woman's name was Melissa and she was on probation for, basically punching her mother-in-law on the face and breaking her nose.
And, the conversation prematurely went to apology, like, I think you should apologize. And she was being very honest and saying, Yeah, let, let me tell you a little bit about her and why I punched her. And, you could see just how locked into the conflict she was and that she was not in an apologetic frame of mind.
And there was a, a community member in the circle who said, you know, like, let me see if I understand what happened together. So you were at home and you have, you have a child, you have a little boy's three, like three years old. And she's like, Yeah. And and he was there. Yeah. So basically he got to witness an act of violence by his mother.
toward his grandma. Is that right? And she just broke. I mean, that was the moment for her when she was able to step out of her own conflict and kind of fix gaze on how the, the mother-in-law to what this would've been like for her child and what he was, what less he was gonna take away from this. And then she like, turned it all around in that moment, like, Oh my God, I have to have her over to dinner tonight.
David Karp (he/him): Like, it was, it was such an amazing facilitator move that it made me think, this is, th there's something really profound about this. If you're able to engage people in a way that really connects to who they are as people and what, who they wanna be in the world, you know, we can really see change. And it was not standard because the, the normal method is to just like, like develop empathy for the harmed party.
And that wasn't working. And so she had to do this role taking things shift from the harm party to, you know, this other harm party that was unnamed so far, her child. and I thought that was so amazing though. I was like, Okay, this is not what, this is not what the courts think.
David Ryan (he/him): Yeah, Yeah. No, that's such a cool story. I'm thinking like the amount of quote unquote reps that you need to get in as a facilitator, like to, to have that move. Like one, sometimes people can think of the, that thing in the moment and often if you're present. and really some of that was just, Reflective listening and summary. Right. but like sometimes like that saying the exact thing and people like, Oh my gosh, how did you pull that out?
Was like, you know, it it's just being in the practice, being present and listening. That was so great.
So I think I have two more questions. one requires a little bit of homework from you. Who's someone that I should have on the podcast and you have to help me get them on,
David Karp (he/him): So two people come to mind. Both are recent PhDs from our program and one is a person I mentioned earlier, TJ re, who is now a, professor of Native American Studies at Cal State Long Beach and, is doing really, powerful restorative work both on campus and the mom. and another person is, Pedro Flores, who just finished his PhD this spring and is bringing restorative justice to healthcare is, you know, is, is really pioneering how we can transform our healthcare system, which is incredibly hierarchical and toxic, and causing harm all the way down the line from.
David Karp (he/him): You know, those that are high on the hierarchy down to other people, down to, you know, students and then ultimately the patients. So I think, you know, in terms of newcomers to the field, it would be great to talk to them.
David Ryan (he/him): Good to know. I've already located them on LinkedIn, but the introduction, is always helpful.
So we're looking forward to having them on these airwaves soon. and finally, we've mentioned it before, the, the work at the center, but, you can expand the call beyond this. How can people support you and your work in the ways that you want to be supported?
David Karp (he/him): You know, I think I don't know if it's just me, but I think that in, nonprofit world in general, there's, there tends to be a scarcity mindset, which means that we compete for resources. and you know, if one, one organization gets a grant, that means another one didn't. And if we can, if we collectively in the Restorative of Justice C could do that differently and, be mutually supportive, I think that's neat.
I mean, we're small enough and, you know, under resourced enough that we, there's plenty of room for everyone for growth. So let's figure out how to work together.
David Ryan (he/him): that's a call towards, the restorative justice community at large? Yes.
David Karp (he/him): Yeah. I mean it pertains to, you know, as you started with asking, like what would be helpful.
David Ryan (he/him): Oh, yeah,
David Karp (he/him): Yeah. I have a Center for Restorative Justice at usd and there are other centers for restorative justice on other campuses. And we're having conversations about, you know, how can this center for, you know, restorative justice and peacemaking, University of Minnesota. Collaborate. How can the Center for Urban Resilience at Royal and Marymount collaborate?
How can the Amherst College Center for sort of practices collaborate? Like we, we don't need to be carving out our separate niches and saying mine's better than yours. Or, I got this grant and didn't, you know, like, what can we do together? So in my world, we can create restorative universities, you across, you know, country as opposed to just being like the only community in town.
David Ryan (he/him): So that makes sense. Again, like the way that this is typically framed and like, I think it is applicable, like that's so applicable. And I wanna honor that. And so we'll leave that in. Is there something that, like the person who's like listening to this, who's an individual like teacher, and, and like that might be like, call to action.
Like, Hey, the website, check out our, check out our resources. because like what you, what you just spoke to is like speaking to like, like a very specific group of people. Like is there something like that's more universal that people can like call to action and, support you? And there might not be beyond like, check out the website, but like if you could just like restate that, reaffirm that, that'd be great.
well I, you know, I'll say that, restorative justice in higher education
David Ryan (he/him): Mm-hmm.
David Karp (he/him): In a small and growing area. And, we have, you know, some resources and opportunities on our website. So if people are interested in learning or about, or applying, restorative justice on campuses, they can find out more from us.
Or if they wanna learn more about restorative justice or do a deep dive, you know, they can participate in one of our programs. We'd love to, we'd love to have all of you.
David Ryan (he/him): Beautiful. So all the ways to collaborate, connect, go through the Sandiego.edu/rj. We'll have that linked in the, in the show notes.
David, thank you so much for your wisdom, your stories, and of course, your time to, share how folks can continue living this restorative justice life. we'll be back with another conversation of somebody living these values, these ways, these philosophies next week. Until then, take care.