John Byrd Pioneer Award
John W. Byrd Pioneer Award for Restorative and Community Justice
The National Conference on Restorative Justice will honor the memory of John W. Byrd with a biannual award in his name.
John W. Byrd had an incurably positive attitude and modeled selflessness, humility, kindness, commitment to family, self-reflection, and genuine concern and respect for others. These attributes were magnetic and served as guideposts to many. He had a way of making everyone feel important. John wanted to improve society and envisioned what could be.
In 2001, John was at a National Institute of Corrections seminar on restorative justice on September 11 when the Twin Towers fell. Two attendees lost family members that day. That week was a galvanizing experience for John. He committed his professional and personal life to broadening the use of restorative justice in Texas and across the nation.
As a faculty member at the University of Texas at San Antonio, John introduced students to theory and research on restorative and community justice. His students learned to think critically about the justice system and consider the potential of restorative and community justice to prevent crime, reduce recidivism and promote higher quality of life in communities.
He used the emerging research to train practitioners and educate the community about the potential of restorative and community justice to provide more effective responses to crime, treatment of offenders under supervision, and reentry programming. For several years he led an effort San Antonio Restorative Justice Community Initiative which resulted in: a two year community education project; the creation of a community reentry roundtable and the development of neighborhood based applications of restorative and community justice principles and practices; and, the 1st National Conference on Restorative Justice in 2007.
John brought out the best in those around him and left the world a better and more positive place. He worked tirelessly to build a better, safer and more livable society.
The award shall recognize individuals, organizations or groups for a record of sustained and important contributions to restorative and/or community justice education, training, or practice focused on producing safer and more livable communities through:
- Education and Training,
- Theory development,
- Theory testing,
- Evaluation research, and
- Program design and implementation.
Restorative Justice – promoting safer neighborhoods by healing individual harms:
- Focus on healing the harms caused by crimes (or other harmful conduct) rather than the rules that have been broken.
- Show equal concern and commitment for both victims and offenders, involving both in the process.
- Work toward restoration of the victim or victim’s family by empowering them and attending to their needs as they see them.
- Support offenders, while encouraging them to understand, accept, and carry out their obligations.
- Recognize that obligations of an offender to a victim(s) may be difficult for offenders but those obligations must be achievable and should not be imposed as harms.
- Provide opportunities for dialogue, direct and indirect, between victims and offenders as appropriate.
- Find meaningful ways to involve the community and respond to the community bases of crime or other harmful conduct.
- Encourage collaboration and reintegration of victims and offenders, rather than coercion and isolation.
- Show respect for all parties-victims, offender, community, and justice officials.
- Strengthen the capacity of residents for pro-social self-governance and collective actions.
Community Justice – Promoting higher quality of life in neighborhoods by healing communities
- Promote social justice and ethics of care within the neighborhood and across the larger community.
- Focus on strengthening the capacity of neighborhoods for self-governance and collective action to reduce, improve, or solve community problems.
- Strengthen pro-social norms within neighborhoods.
- Strengthen the capacity of residents to work collaboratively toward creating a safer community with higher quality of life.
- Promote mutually respectful collaborations with government agencies (i.e., social service, code compliance, law enforcement and other justice systems, etc.) to improve social conditions within the neighborhood.
Ms. Nancy Riestenberg, Restorative Practices Specialist for the Minnestoa Department of Education.
Nancy Riestenberg has dedicated her professional life to helping communities and schools become safe, livable, and effective places for people to thrive. She has done this through education, training and writing.
She has worked with school districts across Minnesota and in 20 other states. Her work has had broad impact which can be seen in the growing rate of adoption of restorative practices by schools across the nation. This is, in part, due to her books Circle in the Square: Building Community and Repairing Harm in Schools (2012) and Restorative Approaches to Conflict in Schools: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Whole School Approaches to Managing Relationships (2014).
Signs of her work can be seen in Texas. Over the last several years she has worked on a project directed by Dr. Marilyn Armour, Director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue at The University of Texas at Austin, College of Social Work. This project has dramatically changed the school climate at the Ed White Middle School (Northeast Independent School District) in San Antonio, TX. The outcomes of this project have led to a new statewide effort to introduce restorative practices and restorative discipline in Texas schools.
Dr. Daniel Van Ness, Executive Director, Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, Prison Fellowship International.
Lorenn Walker, J. D., MPH, Restorative Law Practitioner, Waialua, Hawaii.
Dr. Mark Umbreit, Executive Director, Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking, University of Minnesota.