Impact Justice is proud to announce sujatha baliga, director of our Restorative Justice Project, has been selected as a 2019 MacArthur Fellow for her work as an attorney and restorative justice practitioner.
With vision, compassion, and a rigorous, evidence-based approach to implementation, sujatha is expanding access to and increasing the visibility of restorative justice practices while honoring their centuries-old, indigenous roots.
Throughout her personal journey and professional career, sujatha has demonstrated the need and efficacy of survivor-centered restorative justice practices in lieu of traditional legal interventions to help crime survivors heal, hold those who have caused harm accountable, and break cycles of recidivism and violence.
“As a child sexual abuse survivor growing up in an immigrant family, I was more afraid of ‘help’ than I was of my father,” says sujatha. “I didn’t want to be placed in foster care or for my father to be locked up, and I worried that telling the truth might trigger immigration consequences for my family. Ultimately, I was drawn to restorative justice because it works best without involving the criminal legal system or other systems of separation and oppression.”
sujatha developed a successful pre-charge, restorative justice diversion program in Alameda County, California, which works with youth who have been arrested for felonies and other serious harms. She and her team now supports community-based organizations and partners from the criminal and juvenile legal systems in seven counties across the United States to reduce our reliance on incarceration and diminish its highly disproportionate and detrimental effects on communities of color.
Drawing upon this experience, sujatha is now focused on developing and facilitating restorative justice responses to address the complex and specific needs of survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence.
“The entire Impact Justice family offers our heartfelt congratulations to sujatha for being selected as a MacArthur Fellow,” says Alex Busansky, president of Impact Justice. “We’re honored to work with her to create a world where we can meet the needs of crime survivors and offer people opportunities to take accountability for harms they cause without getting pushed into the criminal justice system. We’re excited to expand this work further to make restorative justice an option for more communities seeking alternatives to criminalization and incarceration.”
Learn more about sujatha’s work and the MacArthur Fellowship.