Discussion with Sujatha Baliga, Director of NCCD's Restorative Justice Project
April 24, 2013 12:45pm - 2:00pm
Join us in celebrating National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 21-27, 2013. Sujatha’s work is characterized by an equal dedication to victims and persons accused of crime. Sujatha has worked extensively with victims of domestic violence and child sexual abuse as an advocate and board member for rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters. The convergence of Sujatha’s interest in Tibetan ideals of justice and her work with women accused of killing their abusers drew her to law school and ultimately, criminal defense work. After several years as an appellate public defender in New Mexico and at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City, Sujatha relocated to California in 2006 to work on capital cases.
In 2008, Sujatha was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship, which she used to spearhead a successful restorative juvenile diversion program in Alameda County. Sujatha has served as a consultant to the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, and taught Restorative Justice at New College School of Law and at the California Institute for Integral Studies. She is regularly invited to address groups of prisoners and restorative justice programs about her personal experiences as a survivor of child sexual abuse and her path to forgiveness. A frequent guest lecturer at academic institutions and conferences, she has also testified before legislative bodies on proposed legislation impacting criminal and civil penalties for sexual assault and abuse. She recently completed a term as the Convenor of the Alameda County Restorative Juvenile Justice Task Force. As the Director of Community Justice Works, she expanded the restorative juvenile diversion program she began through her Soros Fellowship. Today, Sujatha is a Senior Program Specialist at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, where she assists communities in implementing restorative justice alternatives to juvenile detention and zero-tolerance school discipline policies. Sujatha is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Paragate Project, an organization dedicated to exploring forgiveness.
Sujatha earned her A.B. from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She has held federal clerkships with the Honorable William K. Sessions, III, Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and with the Honorable Martha Vázquez. An emerging national voice in restorative justice, she was honored as Northeastern University Law School’s Daynard Fellow, and has been a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Sujatha’s personal and research interests include victims’ voices in restorative practices, the forgiveness of seemingly unforgivable acts, and Tibetan notions of justice.