Animals and Restorative Justice Symposium

8:30AM - 2:30PM

Online Online Zoom Sessions

Online Symposium
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Animals and Restorative Justice Symposium

The Animals and Restorative Justice Symposium will be hosted virtually on July 29, 2022, as a collaborative effort between Vermont Law School's Center for Justice Reform and Animal Law and Policy Institute, and University of San Francisco School of Law's Justice for Animals Program.

The symposium will bring together practitioners, academics, service providers, researchers, and others who are considering the relationship between animals and restorative justice. Restorative justice is a theory of criminal justice that uses rehabilitation and reconciliation to repair the damage that offenders have caused to victims, while also transforming the larger social structures in which such harms arise. Restorative justice compliments recent developments in animal protection law. Some animal law scholars and activists have critiqued punitive and retributive approaches to crimes against animals as unjust and ineffective. This symposium will explore methods of recognizing the harms inflicted on animal victims, rehabilitating offenders, and addressing deeper, structural causes of animal abuse.

For those involved in work dedicated to animal law/animal rights, there has been growing interest in learning more about the ways that restorative responses could be used as a way to address harm in a different, non-carceral approach. In addition, for those involved in work surrounding restorative justice and restorative practices, there has been a gap in attention given to the ways that harms involving animals are relevant and critically important to the field of restorative justice as a whole. The symposium will also explore the restorative capacities of the human-animal bond and whether animals should play a role in restorative justice beyond crimes against animals.

Panel 1: Theoretical Foundations of Restorative Justice for Animals
8:45-10:00 PT/11:45-1:00 ET

The first panel will discuss the problems with the existing criminal justice system, reasons for adopting alternative approaches to carceral animal law, the theoretical underpinnings of restorative and transformative justice, and the promises and challenges of applying these frameworks to cases involving animals.

Brittany Hill, Staff Attorney at the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School

Brittany Hillis a prison abolitionist and is currently a staff attorney with the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Brittany focuses on reducing barriers for justice-involved people through sentence/conviction reconsideration and clemency. Brittany authored an article about the emergent use of restorative justice in animal law, Restoring Justice for Animal Victims.

Michael Swistara, The George Washington University Law School, Recent Graduate

Michael Swistara is a recent graduate of The George Washington University Law School. Throughout law school, he served as president of the school’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund Chapter, student coordinator for the Animal Welfare Project, and was a 2021-2022 Emerging Scholars Fellow at the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law and Policy. His work largely focuses on the intersection of animal rights with other social justice issues, including recent publications in the Animal Law Review and the University of Miami Race and Social Justice Law Review. Previously, he served as a consultant for the DC Police Reform Commission and has worked on issues of transportation racism, environmental justice, and prosecutorial screening models. Michael is also an active member of the American Bar Association’s animal law committees and is the incoming newsletter vice chair for the International Animal Law Committee. Later this year, he will start a litigation fellowship at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Jeffrey Stein, Earthjustice, Legal Fellow

Jeff is a legal fellow in Earthjustice’s Sustainable Food and Farming Program, where his advocacy focuses on the climate, environmental, and public health harms of industrial animal agriculture. Beginning in Fall 2022, Jeff will serve as litigation counsel to the PETA Foundation, where he will work on a nationwide docket of animal rights and protection cases. Before his fellowship, Jeff served as a term law clerk for two federal judges, Judge Leo T. Sorokin of the District of Massachusetts and Judge Diana Gribbon Motz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. During his clerkship with Judge Sorokin, Jeff participated in efforts to integrate restorative justice theory and practices into federal criminal proceedings. Jeff is a 2019 graduate of Columbia Law School, where he was an editor of the Columbia Law Review, a James Kent Scholar, and a recipient of the E.B. Convers Prize for legal writing.

Panel 2: Case Studies in Restorative Justice for Animals
10:15-11:30 PT/1:15-2:30 ET

The second panel will describe animal-related cases that have adopted restorative justice approaches. Panelists will describe their experiences in applying restorative justice principles and share their perspective on whether and how these principles work and what we can learn from their experiences.

Sally Adams, Chief Deputy State's Attorney in Chittenden County State's Attorney's Office

Sally Adams is a chief deputy state's attorney for Chittenden County. After earning her law degree from Vermont Law School (JD'09), she worked as a defense attorney from 2009-2016, an assistant attorney general from 2016-2017, and has been Chittenden County’s designated animal cruelty prosecutor since 2017. Sally serves as the state’s attorneys’ and sheriffs’ association representative to the Animal Cruelty Investigations Advisory Board and in her free time is a member of the board of directors at the Humane Society of Chittenden County. She has attended national trainings on prosecution of animal cruelty cases and regularly counsels law enforcement and prosecutors on the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases in Vermont.

Kelly Ahrens, Burlington Community Justice Center, Youth Restorative Programs Manager

Kelly Ahrens is the manager for the Burlington Community Justice Center, Youth Restorative Programs. She has more than a decade of experience in the restorative justice field throughout Vermont, including in a research, volunteer, and staff capacity. For half of that, she has been focused on how to creating restorative justice processes and programming that meet the needs of youth.


Lindsey Pointer, Assistant Professor, Vermont Law School, PI, National Center on Restorative Justice

Lindsey Pointer is an assistant professor at Vermont Law School and collaboratively leads the National Center on Restorative Justice. She has a PhD in Restorative Justice from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and is a former Fulbright Fellow and Rotary Global Grant recipient. Lindsey has worked as a restorative justice facilitator, community program manager, educator, and researcher. She is the author of three books on restorative justice: The Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools (Good Books, 2020), The Restorative Justice Ritual (Routledge, 2021), and a children's picture book, Wally and Freya (Good Books, 2022).

Panel 3: Implementing Restorative Justice for Animals
11:45-1:00 PT/2:45-4:00 ET 

The third panel will explore how we might implement restorative justice principles on a broader scale. Panelists will discuss the social challenges of implementing restorative justice more comprehensively, empirical evidence concerning the efficacy of various interventions, and programs that address animal suffering through non-carceral approaches.

Ashley Anderson-Mutch, Senior Program Manager, Policy and Enforcement Reform, Pets for Life HSUS

Ashley Anderson-Mutch is a senior program manager of Enforcement and Policy Reform with Pets for Life at the Humane Society of the United States. She works with animal welfare organizations across the country to address areas of inequity with internal and external policies that disproportionately affect underserved communities and communities of color. She strives to help develop an understanding of the way in which animal welfare is connected to larger issues of institutional discrimination and historical oppression for people. She also works with several municipal shelter organizations and local animal enforcement teams to implement community based support practices. Prior to joining the HSUS, Ashley worked as a humane law enforcement officer in the city of Philadelphia and across several counties in Pennsylvania.

Angela Fernandez, Professor, Faculty of Law & Department of History, University of Toronto

Angela Fernandez is a full professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto where she is cross-appointed to the Department of History and teaches a course in animal law. Professor Fernandez is a member of the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights, Law & Policy collaborative research network BASAN (Brooks Animal Studies Academic Network). She is also on the board of advisors and is a director of Animal Justice Canada. She is interested in Restorative Justice/Transformative Justice as a member of the Animal Cruelty Response Research Project.

Philip Tedeschi, LCSW MSSW, Clinical Professor at the Graduate School of Social Work (University of Denver), Founder and Director Emeritus at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection (University of Denver)

Philip Tedeschi is the director emeritus and founder of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection and a clinical professor at the Graduate School of Social Work and an affiliated faculty with the University of Denver’s Animal Law Program. He teaches in the Human-Animal-Environmental Interactions Certificate for Master of Social Work students, examining the intricate relationship between people, domestic and wild animals, and the natural world. Tedeschi’s research, scholarship, teaching and community practice work have focused on issues of social and interspecies justice, global perspectives of human-animal interactions, conservation social work and human ecology. He specializes in the bio-affiliative connection between people and animals, the health promoting potential of human-animal and nature interaction, trauma informed care and causes of violence including assessment and intervention with cruelty to people and other animals.

Katia Nikitina, MSW, Special Projects Research Coordinator at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection (University of Denver)

Katia Nikitina, MSW, is the special projects research coordinator at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection (University of Denver). She studies the relationships between ecosystem health, animal welfare, and human social structures. She strives to develop successful policy and program interventions through rigorous analysis, community engagement, and the promotion of traditional ecological knowledge. She is dedicated to creating a regenerative future with and for today's youth: a world that is sensitive to the needs of human beings, animals, and the shared biosphere. Her work is focused on research and program development to better inform social responses to animal maltreatment, biodiversity decline, and psychoterratic conditions.

Breakout Session
1:15-2:15 PT/4:15-5:15 ET 

The goal of the break-out discussions will be to share a variety of perspectives and experiences relevant to the intersection of animals and restorative justice, and to consider further collaborations in this work. For those interested in continuing these collaborative efforts, there may be opportunities to form partnerships, co-author papers, or develop community programs.