November 18, 2022

Ep 14 Part 2: Michael Tafolla

Part 2 of Michael Tafolla’s story and his message about trauma, violence, transformation, and restorative justice.
Justice Voices
Ep 14 Part 2: Michael Tafolla
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Show Notes

Justice Voices
Ep 14 Part 2: Michael Tafolla
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In this part 2 of a highly instructive conversation with Michael Tafolla, he shares the rest of his story of transformation, beginning with a childhood and early teenage years of experiencing the chronic trauma of living in a violence filled neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago, to making the fateful decision to, as he put it, become what he feared by picking up the gun, which led to a gang murder for which he served a long prison sentence. Now, Michael works as a victim advocate responding to the scenes of shootings to help victims and their families deal with the trauma of gun violence. He also works as a restorative justice practitioner. Perhaps the most valuable part of this episode is his explanation of what restorative justice is and how this alternative, victim-centered, problem-solving concept and approach to justice leads to healing harm, rather than causing greater harm, as is commonly the case with our traditional punishment approach to justice in which the interests of victims, community, and perpetrators of harm are inadequately considered, much less adequately addressed. As has been said before in this program, it is not being tough on crime to keep doing the same things and expecting different results. At some point we need to wake up and get smart on crime, starting with recognition that we need to commit to more problem-solving, informed by such things as listening to the voices of people with lived experience like Michael Tafolla. We start part 2 with Michael’s description of some ways in which the Education Justice Project of the University of Illinois helped transform him while in prison to be prepared to face the challenges of reentry to community life after release from prison and build a new way of life – and help others do the same.

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