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Lisa Rea

Lisa Rea

Lisa Rea has an extensive background in public policy as a former staff person in the California Legislature, a legislative advocate for a variety of public and private sector organizations, and a specialist in advocacy, media relations and legislative grassroots organizing. She has worked in the public and private sectors in the area of health care, welfare reform, and environmental advocacy.

Lisa Rea is a national restorative justice expert with 15 years of experience on the state, national and international levels. In the ‘90s she served as state director of Justice Fellowship-California, the criminal justice reform arm of Prison Fellowship. As a government relations consultant she worked with Prison Fellowship International on various justice initiatives around the globe including testing an intensive in-prison victim offender pilot in a Texas prison in 1998.

In 2001 Ms. Rea founded The Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP), a national restorative justice organization based in California working with victims of violent crime. JRP worked to promote policies based on victims-driven restorative justice encouraging offender accountability and urging expansion of programs to allow direct victim offender dialogue. JRP provided a forum for victims to tell their stories giving victims a greater voice in the restorative justice movement. JRP has been at the forefront of the restorative justice movement in the United States advocating for systemic reform on all levels of the criminal justice system with direct input from victims.

Rea has lectured on restorative justice at conferences in the United States, Bulgaria, New Zealand and Puerto Rico and was an invited speaker to the 2007 Winchester International Restorative Justice Conference in the United Kingdom. She has been a frequent guest on state and national radio and television shows including National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, California Public Radio “Insight”, Catholic Radio (Bob Dunning Show), and Lifestyle Magazine which airs on Trinity Broadcasting Network in the U.S.

Lisa Rea ran for Congress in California’s 4th congressional district in the 2006 Democratic primary.  Lisa is currently a principal at Rea Consulting, a government relations firm doing advocacy, media relations, and grassroots organizing. She continues to provide consulting assistance in victims-driven restorative justice.

You may contact Lisa directly at

Lisa Rea is the Founder and President of Restorative Justice International (RJI), a global network and association dedicated to victims-driven restorative justice.

Find RJI at or via Contact RJI at

Lisa Rea's blog entries:

Justice in Ferguson, Missouri: Can restorative justice apply here?
from Lisa Rea's blog entry at Restorative Justice International: I have worked in the area of civil rights in the past. I include my restorative justice work in the last 20 years as being part of that civil rights work. But in the 1980s I also served on a local civil rights coalition in the Sacramento area in California where our focus was to respond to acts of racial hatred in the region. This included acts of racial violence and intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-nazi party.
Greg Wilhoit: an innocent man dies (RIP) Feb. 14, 2014
from the article by Lisa Rea: This blog article is in memory of exoneree Greg Wilhoit who passed on Feb. 14, 2014 in Sacramento, California. I first wrote about Greg’s life in 2010 posted here through
How to respond to violent crime? Ask the victims of crime
from the article by Lisa Rea on Restorative Justice International: RJI will be exploring various legislative responses to violent crime in the U.S. and beyond. We will highlight in particular public policy recommendations that reflect responses based on restorative justice. At this time we are posting the following statute which came from legislation authored by crime victim and survivor Robert “Renny” Cushing who was elected and this year re-elected to the New Hampshire Legislature.
D.C. sniper speaks 10 years after violence: Can restorative justice apply here?
from the article by Lisa Rea on Restorative Justice International: It’s been 10 years since the D.C. sniper took 10 lives and wounded three. The following are two stories (including one audio tape) from Josh White of the Washington Post (September 29, 2012) interviewing Lee Boyd Malvo, the young killer who voluntarily did the bidding of John Allen Muhammad. Malvo and Muhammad went on a killing spree that lasted 23 days in October 2002 terrorizing the victims and their families and all who lived in the D.C. region. As we provide a link to these stories we think of the victims and the victims’ families. We also consider the words of Lee Boyd Malvo who tells his victims “to forget him.” Can restorative justice be applied here? Could the victims or their families choose restorative justice now in this case?
Does restorative justice mean forgiveness?
by Lisa Rea This is a pretty controversial topic: forgiveness and restorative justice. Do all crime victims who support restorative justice therefore forgive? Does one come then the other? I don’t think so. I know many victims of violent crime who have forgiven. Many of their stories are online at Restorative Justice International (see victims stories) and I have told others on this blog.
Does restorative justice mean forgiveness?
by Lisa Rea This is a pretty controversial topic: forgiveness and restorative justice. Do all crime victims who support restorative justice therefore forgive? Does one come then the other? I don’t think so. I know many victims of violent crime who have forgiven. Many of their stories are online at Restorative Justice International (see victims stories) and I have told others on this blog.
Restorative justice: The new way forward
from Lisa Rea's article in In Baylor University's Christian Refelction issue on Prison: .... Some might argue that our prison system was never meant to positively affect victims and communities. I will not analyze the original purpose of prisons in society, but we know that prisons have become something far different than what they were intended to be. Most societies have incarcerated individuals who were deemed to be a violent threat to others, but the United States prison system today has grown immensely beyond this rationale. As a result, the American state and federal prison population has expanded dramatically.
Penn State's response to child sexual abuse: What about the victims?
by Lisa Rea As the story comes out in more detail about the alleged sexual abuse of children by Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State, the coverage of the story seems to be more about the actions of veteran coach Joe Paterno--his resignation or the university's decision to fire him.
Is Georgia Ready to Execute an Innocent Man?
by Lisa Rea I read the papers this morning online searching for this story about Troy Davis. When I read the news that the Georgia Board of Pardons did not grant clemency and that Davis was set to be executed on Wednesday September 21 I swallowed hard. I had not followed this case closely until recently. My work in the last 19 years has been focused on reforming the justice system through advocating for restorative justice. However, in recent years I have met innocent men who were on death row for crimes they did not commit. They are the lucky ones; they're alive to tell their stories. I have met even more victims of violent crime whose loved ones have been murdered around the United States who are increasingly raising their voices against the death penalty. Many of those same crime victims are strong advocates for restorative justice.
Listening to crime victims: North Carolina restorative justice conference
by Lisa Rea When crime victims speak about the effect violent crime has had on their lives you have to listen. On June 9th I moderated a crime victims roundtable during the 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina coordinated this year by Campbell University Law School. The roundtable called "Listening to Crime Victims: Their Journeys Toward Healing" was sponsored by the Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing. The four victims of violence who told their stories were Bill Pelke, chair, Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing (Alaska), Stephen Watt, Stephen Watt Ministries (Wyoming) , Bess Klassen-Landis, musician and teacher (Vermont), and Kim Book, executive director, Victims Voices Heard (Delaware). No matter how many crime victims panels I have moderated the stories are always riveting and often what I hear the victims say is new even when I am familiar with the stories. I learn something new as the victims move along in their lives---their own personal journeys.
Victim's daughter meets IRA bomber: An interview with Jo Berry
by Lisa Rea On October 12, 1984 an IRA bomb planted by Patrick Magee demolished Brighton’s Grand Hotel in Brighton killing 5 people including Sir Anthony Berry, MP for Southgate and a member of the Thatcher government. The bomb hit on the last day of the conservative party conference held at the hotel. The IRA bomber Magee was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was released after 14 years under the negotiated Good Friday agreement. The following is an interview Lisa Rea conducted with Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry. She did this interview from her home in Macclesfield UK. Jo Berry chose to meet with Pat Magee in November 2000. Today the two work together on many initiatives including addressing peace conferences, giving workshops in prisons, and speaking at universities. Q. How did the meetings happen? What was the process? Were you, and Pat, adequately prepared to meet? Walk us through what happened.
An alarming Supreme Court ruling against an innocent man
by Lisa Rea It is hard to fathom the actions of the Supreme Court at times. This ruling is one of those times. Read the case of John Thompson, a wrongfully convicted man in New Orleans who spent 14 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. I have written of a case like this previously (i.e. exoneree Greg Wilhoit on Oklahoma's death row) but this case has a different twist. The exoneree was seeking compensation from the District Attorney for the years he spent on death row because a prosecutor who worked for his office hid evidence that would have freed him---a blood test among other things. The Supreme Court ruling (5-4) written by Justice Clarence Thomas states that while there was "misconduct" by the prosecutor (Ginsburg points out there were actually four prosecutors involved), that "did not prove deliberate indifference" by the District Attorney.
Laura's Law: Remembering the victims of violence
by Lisa Rea Considering gun related violence and its impact on the victims, I remember the courageous work of Amanda and Nick Wilcox in Northern California in the name of their daughter, Laura. A recent press piece describes what they have done to fight violence since the shooting death of their daughter at the hands of Scott Thorpe on January 10, 2001.
Guns, restorative justice and violence prevention
by Lisa Rea After reading It's time to inject sanity into the gun debate by LA TIMES columnist Steve Lopez and pondering the violent events in Tucson, Arizona on January 8th I wondered about restorative justice and gun violence. Some might think there is little or no connection between gun violence and restorative justice but I think they 're wrong. The principles of restorative justice which focus on making things right with crime victims AFTER crimes are committed and embracing offender accountability also must address the need for violence prevention in the front end of the system. To think that those of us who work for restorative justice around the U.S. and globally do not care about preventing violence is wrongheaded. There is a place for a discussion on crime prevention especially when gun violence appears to be on the increase in the U.S. Whether you question that statement or not it is clear that gun ownership is on the rise in the U.S. According to the online news site (1.12.11), "In the days since the tragedy, gun sales have increased dramatically. According to figures obtained from the FBI by Bloomberg, some 263 handguns were sold in Arizona the day after the killings, a rise of 60% on a year ago. Handgun sales were up 65% to 395 in Ohio and nationally increased by about 5% to 7,906."
Restorative Justice on Death Row: healing for crime victims?
by Lisa Rea A death row inmate in Florida recently died in prison before the state could execute him. I became aware of Robert's case because I met his pen pal, Ines, a woman from Switzerland who had be-friended him through a pen pal organization, Lifespark, based in that country. After being interviewed by Ines for her organization's newsletter on the subject of forgiveness and restorative justice I learned more about the man she wrote in a Florida prison who had served some 20 years on death row. The story came to an end on December 3rd, 2010 when Robert unexpectedly died of cancer. But what I learned from my encounter with Ines was the real need to open doors more fully for all victims of violent crime wherever their offenders live and wherever their victims live (if they are still alive). I learned through Ines that her pen pal, once a very violent offender, was ready to attempt to make things right, as much as possible, with the victims or victim's family members that he had injured. The rap sheet on this man was very violent and longer than I'd ever seen. I often learn things about restorative justice and how to apply it seemingly coincidentally. When cases draw me, or more likely the people behind the cases, I have a hard time saying no.
Jury convicts man in killing of Chandra Levy in 2001
by Lisa Rea Let's hope for the family of Chandra Levy that justice was done by convicting Ingmar Guandique of the 2001 murder of Chandra Levy. But reading the news stories surrounding the conviction makes me pause. I have spent quite a bit of time studying wrongful convictions, as well as talking to those exonerees who spent time in prison, some on death row, for crimes they did not commit. This case looks dubious.
An update on Greg Wilhoit
This is an update on Greg Wilhoit. As I said to Greg's sister, Nancy, I am thrilled to hear of his remarkable recovery since six months ago most of us thought he was going to leave us. But God had other plans. Greg is doing so well that he is walking (with the help of a walker) when it looked like he would never walk again. We are very thankful. He also has some big news: he is getting married this month in Oklahoma to Judy, a woman he's known for 25 years! Greg will be honored in Texas in October 2010 during an event hosted by the Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing when the organization barnstorms the state with its message of hope and healing as it embraces restorative justice and stands against the death penalty.
Can you work for the victim and the offender?
by Lisa Rea I had two things happen to me recently that gave me pause. It is the story of two people. One is the story of a crime victim. The other is a story of an ex-offender. The crime victim lost her husband to murder years ago in California. I've known this woman largely via email for many years as we both have worked for justice reform. This victim worked for an organization in California that often took positions regarding prison and sentencing policies than have not been positions I could support as an advocate of restorative justice. But regardless, she and I have been "friends". In time, I believe she saw me as a supporter of crime victims, something that I have worked hard to be. She was a good person and a nice human being.
Restorative justice and the Rwandan genocide
from Lisa Rea's interview with Dan Van Ness in UNICRI's Freedom from Fear magazine: Do you see healing occurring in the victims? And in the offenders as well? How does the community respond? The healing process is a long and involved one. I think that Umuvumu Tree Project has helped in that process in several ways.
Greg Wilhoit: The story of an innocent man
by Lisa Rea I have a friend whose name is Greg Wilhoit. His story is a remarkable one. He is an exoneree who was freed from death row in Oklahoma after having served time for a crime he did not commit. He was convicted and sent to death row for the killing of his wife. The only incriminating "evidence" which convicted Greg Wilhoit was teeth marks found on the victim's body. Dental "experts" said the teeth marks matched Greg's. His story is on the website of The Journey of Hope: Greg is active with the Journey, as are many exonerees, as he tells his story of America's broken criminal justice system.

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