Criminal Justice Conversations with David Onek: Sujatha Baliga, Community Justice Works | KALW

Criminal Justice Conversations with David Onek: Sujatha Baliga, Community Justice Works

Apr 28, 2011

In Episode #23, Program Director at Community Justice Works Sujata Baliga discusses her innovative restorative justice work in the Alameda County juvenile justice system, how she got strong buy-in from law enforcement for restorative justice programming, her own personal history as a survivor of crime and her experience sharing her story with people serving time for violent offenses, and more.

Sujata Baliga Interview Highlights

Baliga on How Restorative Justice Differs from the Traditional Justice System:

“Restorative justice is a real paradigm shift in the way that we think about wrongdoing. It requires a shift away from punishment towards repair. A good way to think of it is what’s often called the three questions. What we generally ask is: what law was broken, who broke it, and how do we punish them. And in restorative justice we ask a very different set of questions. We ask: what harm was done and to whom, what needs have arisen based on that harm, and who’s obligation is it to meet those needs. It brings all the multiple stakeholders together to engage in a reparative process, ideally through consensus-based decision-making.”

Baliga on Restorative Justice’s Evidence of Success:

“Numerous studies [of restorative justice] show increased victim satisfaction, reduction in recidivism, higher levels of completions of plans versus regular probation plans. There’s so many different ways in which you can show that restorative justice is an improvement over what we’re doing now.“

Baliga on the Power of Restorative Justice Conferences:

“The way in which apology comes forth from young people when they are given an opportunity to really take responsibility for the things they have done, and the ways in which hearing the stories of their victims really opens their hearts to the human consequences of their behavior – there is never a dry eye, tissue boxes are a regular part of what I need to bring to these things.”


The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast with David Onek features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders: law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, academics and others.

The Podcast gets behind the sound bites that far too often dominate the public dialogue about criminal justice, to have detailed, nuanced conversations about criminal justice policy.

Podcast host David Onek is a Senior Fellow at Berkeley Law School and a former Commissioner on the San Francisco Police Commission.

You can find more information on the Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast and listen to all past episodes on the Podcast web site.

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