BROWNWOOD – July 25, 2018 – Howard Payne University has received 2018 funding for the restorative justice emphasis of its criminal justice program from the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The BGCT has assisted with the emphasis since 2006.
Restorative justice is a practice that assists in repairing harm when unacceptable behavior has made a negative impact on a victim or a community such as a school, town or neighborhood. Many churches believe in the practice and work with universities to provide programs that equip students with communication, social work and criminal justice training.
The Christian Life Commission is a strong proponent of restorative justice, providing resources to churches and other organizations affiliated with the BGCT. A page on the BGCT’s website (www.texasbaptists.org) says restorative justice reflects biblical principles and encourages Christian leaders to make empathy an essential part of their response toward victims and offenders.
Personnel from the BGCT met with Lynn Humeniuk, director of HPU’s criminal justice program and associate professor of criminal justice and sociology, and representatives from seven other private Christian universities more than a decade ago to propose starting a focus on restorative justice in the universities’ criminal justice programs. HPU was the only university at that time to accept the funding.
The restorative justice emphasis is available for criminal justice majors and minors but is not limited to that department. Over the years, students from social work and psychology have completed restorative justice courses and students from other majors also have the opportunity to use elective hours to complete these courses. The criminal justice department offers a four-class rotation that grants students certificates of completion after conclusion. The BGCT assists with funding to pay an adjunct instructor to teach the classes each semester both in the undergraduate and graduate programs. The funds have also been used to sponsor a trip for a professor and a student to present a topic on restorative justice at an academic conference.
Students in the program have gone on to assist the community by aiding juvenile and adult probation programs, the Ron Jackson Juvenile Correctional Complex, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, Trucore, local attorney offices, local youth ministries and more programs outside the Brownwood area.
“As a Christian university, we delight in the opportunity to teach those going into fields of criminal justice how to steward relationships of forgiveness and healing between offenders, victims, families and communities at large,” said Humeniuk. “We’re thankful to the BGCT for its ongoing support of our students.”