By Emily Peisker, HPU junior
BROWNWOOD – February 12, 2015 – Howard Payne University has received 2015 funding for the restorative justice emphasis of its criminal justice program from the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The BGCT has assisted with the emphasis since 2006.
The restorative justice emphasis is available for criminal justice majors and minors. HPU 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. The funds have also been used to sponsor a trip to an academic conference for a professor and student.
Restorative justice is a theory that proposes assisting guilty parties in repairing damages caused by criminal behavior. Many churches believe in the theory and work with universities to provide programs that equip students with communication, social work and criminal justice training.
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 nine years ago to propose starting a focus on restorative justice in the universities’ criminal justice programs. HPU was the only university to accept the funding and has since awarded eight students with certificates of completion.
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, G4S: The Oaks, local attorney offices, local youth ministries and more programs outside the Brownwood area.
Humeniuk and Kim Bryant, associate professor of communication, serve as fulltime professors with the restorative justice emphasis, while other instructors fill in part-time positions aided by the BGCT.
“This concept of bringing victims, offenders, families and communities together for forgiveness and healing is a perfect fit for a Christian university to offer to our students,” said Humeniuk.
Photo cutline: Lynn Humeniuk directs the criminal justice program at Howard Payne University.