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 email@example.com.
Lisa Rea is the Founder and President of Restorative Justice International (RJI), a global network and association dedicated to victims-driven restorative justice.
Lisa Rea's blog entries:
- Mark McGuire's Apology: Baseball and Restorative Justice
- When's an apology not an apology? Does this question only apply to policies related to restorative justice and crime? I don't think so. Mark McGuire's recent public apology for taking steroids during his career as a major league baseball player got me to thinking. Linked here is a column by a MSNBC sports writer. Though I'm no baseball expert I am a fan. I thought there was a lot of truth in this sportswriter's column. Can you apologise a little and cover your bases, so to speak? Why do we apologize ? Is the timing of one's apology important? Can a real apology help an offender "come clean"?
- U.S. Sentencing Commission and restorative justice
- The U.S. Sentencing Commission includes two restorative justice supporters. Restorative justice expert Howard Zehr has been appointed to the commission as well as Illinois crime victim Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins (her message below). It will be interesting to see what comes out of this commission. Hopefully the Commission will consider seriously the importance of restorative justice as a means to systemic reform.
- Law school student asks: would victims really want restorative justice?
- by Lisa Rea I recently gave a speech at UC Davis Law School. Before the class the professor shared a comment made to him by one of the students in his class. A number of students had already explored restorative justice, perhaps having heard of it previously since the law school had hosted a number of events on the subject including bringing in guest speakers like me to speak in a classroom setting. The student said this: "Restorative justice might be a good concept for the person who committed the crime since they may be able to understand the pain they caused that they might not otherwise be unaware of. However, for victims I think this is a waste of time. It probably just stirs up emotions unnecessarily and the session may turn into a shouting and crying match. But it still doesn’t change the victims’ pain or the harm that was caused."
- Whose side are you on?
- by Lisa Rea Many thoughts run through my mind when I consider the work I have done over many years in the restorative justice field. I often say when I am speaking publicly on the subject that my understanding of it and how I speak about it has changed since the early ‘90s. I think of some seminal moments that have had an effect on my thinking about justice and justice reform. I've been lucky enough to have a diverse set of experiences in this field. Perhaps, it's because I'm drawn to a deeper understanding of the work. I think that is true for many in this field. My experience has not been one-sided. That is I have worked on "both sides of the aisle," if you will, working on issues from the victim's side but also from the offender’s side as well.
- Lisa Rea interviews Stephen Watt
- by Lisa Rea: The following interview is with Stephen Watt, a former Wyoming state trooper and two term state legislator who was shot multiple times by a fleeing bank robber. Lisa Rea's interview focuses on how the impact of a severely violent crime continues 20 years later. Mr. Watt has met with the offender, forgiven him and a friendly relationship has grown up between them. Nevertheless, he continues to suffer. Can restorative justice open doors for further healing in a victim of violent crime who is suffering continuing, severe trauma?
- Gubernatorial candidates in California talk prisons & prison reform
- by Lisa Rea Some weeks ago the Sacramento Bee did a story on the five candidates running for governor of California, thus far, and their views on prisons and criminal justice policies. It is hard to say that any of the responses are encouraging or enlightened. In fact, it left me wondering where's the vision? Where's the bold leadership? Many of the responses showed a lack of understanding of the prison crisis the state faces and some of the responses showed a surprising amount of ignorance. The declared or soon to be declared candidates include Republicans: businesswoman Meg Whitman, state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, and former congressman and state legislator Tom Campbell. The Democrats include state attorney general and former governor Jerry Brown and mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom. Many of the candidate's comments reflected some of the same rhetoric heard this year in the California Legislature. The state is faced with severe prison overcrowding with increasing threats by federal courts to reduce its prison population. This has made prison reform more than a hot topic; some might call it “toxic”.
- An IRA bomber and a victim's daughter
- from Lisa Rea's entry at Change.org: On Tuesday, former Irish Republican Army (IRA) activist Pat Magee, who was convicted of the Brighton bombings in 1984, met Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, one of the five victims killed in the blast. Though Magee had been given eight life sentences, he was freed in 1999 under the negotiated terms of the Good Friday Agreement of 1999. Magee's conviction was based on his planning of the bomb and for attempting to kill British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was attending a conference at the Grand Hotel in Brighton (above), where the bomb was planted.
- Victims abused then denied care: 8 states allow practice
- by Lisa Rea After reading the news story on MSNBC I was astounded. The story tells of the denial of health care insurance to victims of domestic violence in the U.S. This apparently has been going on for quite a while in the U.S. but most of us probably never heard about this appalling fact. As the story reads, a 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee found that 8 of 16 U.S. insurers denied coverage to applicants due to domestic violence. You'd think maybe we were talking about the offender (i.e. the abuser) being denied coverage but, no, we're talking about the victim of domestic violence. In the U.S. health insurance companies can deny coverage without explaining why that coverage is being denied.
- Dark charges from Mahony's inner circle
- by Lisa Rea. When I read this column on the clergy abuse scandal written by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times it was like getting an immediate migraine headache. I have followed the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church closely since the first public eruption in 2000/2001. I know I'm not alone. But my interest led me to speak out on this subject publicly because of my deep commitment to restorative justice and its great value to victims of crime and offenders as well. But my passion to do more than speak about it privately to my own circle of friends and family was because this subject mixes abuse of children with faith. Since I am a committed Christian these news stories have appalled me deeply. It has offended me as a Christian. And then there are the victims.
- Putting a face to a crime
- by Lisa Rea. This entry first appeared on Change.org I recently wrote on graffiti vandalism in Los Angeles and how restorative justice could be applied to this problem. What I didn't know at the time was that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill here in California related to this problem in 2008. That bill, authored by Assemblyman Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles), required that convicted graffiti offenders clean up the mess they created and for one year keep it clean. This reflects restorative justice in that the punishment fits the crime. The governor was right.
- Tagging and restorative justice
- from Lisa Rea's entry at Change.org: A recent story caught my eye. According to the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles tagger Cyrus Yazdani, who goes by Buket, has been sentenced to 3 years and 8 months for his tagging efforts. This is not the first time this notorious tagger has been caught and fined. Yazdani, a 26-year old college graduate from San Jose State, is a prolific tagger who does his tagging in broad daylight. The amount of damage caused by Yazdani's graffiti is in the range of $150,000. And that's got to be on the low side. Most of the damage has been done in Los Angeles; authorities say he's tagged hundreds of freeway overpasses. Is this a fair and just sentence? What do you do with a serial tagger? How would a justice system based on the principles of restorative justice see this case?
- Life sentence in fatal impaired accident 'small victory' for Quebec family
- by Lisa Rea Canadian Roger Walsh was convicted and given a life sentence for the killing of Anee Khudaverian while driving drunk in October 2008 in Quebec. Walsh's sentence is noteworthy since this is the stiffest sentence ever handed down by the Crown in the case of a drunk driving death. Walsh had 18 additional convictions on his record for "impaired driving" before the death of this victim. In this news story, along with a television news clip interviewing the victim's mother and sister, we learn that Ms. Khudaverian was wheelchair bound and walking her down on a rural road when she was killed by Walsh.
- Ex-Vietnam lieutenant apologizes for My Lai massacre: opening doors for restorative justice?
- California officials fear Jaycee Lee Dugard case may hurt efforts on parole
- Healing the victims of Lockerbie
- Victims of crime: Meeting with a killer
- An interview of Ellen Halbert by Lisa Rea in the current issue of Freedom from Fear Magazine, published by UNICRI. In 1986, Ellen Halbert was raped, stabbed, beaten with a hammer and left for dead in her home in Texas. During her recovery, she began to speak out about victims’ rights and what needed to change in our “offender-focused” criminal justice system. In 1991, she was appointed by Governor Ann Richards as the first victim to serve on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the board that oversees the massive adult criminal justice system in Texas....
- Hundreds hurt in California prison riot: What's wrong with California?
- by Lisa Rea As a medium security prison in Chino, California erupts in violence over the weekend injuring 250 inmates and hospitalizing 55, you have to ask what's wrong with California's prison system? As the details of this prison riot become available we read that it appears to be gang related violence: African American prison gangs versus Latino prison gangs. This is not new in the state's prison system. But what California has been wrestling with, or not, is its every increasing prison population. A fact, that frankly, California public officials -- governors, past and present, and California legislators, refuse to grapple with in any reasonable and intelligent way.
- Violent juveniles serving life without parole: When victims of crime disagree
- By Lisa Rea I would like to draw your attention to a very controversial piece of US federal legislation, HR 2289, which seeks to address the problem of juvenile lifers who are serving life sentences. The expressed purpose of the bill is to "establish a meaningful opportunity for parole or similar release of juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison."
- Harvard scholar versus Cambridge police
- by Lisa Rea Most of us have heard all about the police incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard Square. A Harvard scholar by the name of Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home after a neighbor called the police concerned someone was breaking into the house. This occurred at 12:30pm after Gates had just returned to his home from an international flight to China.
- Limiting DNA testing and denying justice to victims
- from Lisa Rea, writing at Change.org: But for God’s sake, if we know we have hundreds or thousands of innocents behind bars must we not do everything in our power to set them free if we live in a civilized society? Absolutely. This court ruling will now make this work harder and slower. As I said earlier, crime victims are hurt - not helped - by this ruling. The challenge on top of this urgent need to free those who are wrongfully convicted is to remember then that someone who is actually guilty of that crime is free at large. Ask a crime victim how they would view that fact. Having worked in the restorative justice field for 15 years I can tell you that crime victims want the system to get it right. There can be no restoration of crime victims, nor can there be offender accountability - two key elements of restorative justice, if the real perpetrator is not caught.