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Howard Zehr

DEPARTMENT: CJP - Center for Justice & Peacebuilding

POSITION: Distinguished Prof of RJ

LOCATION: Main Campus, Harrisonburg | MS 112

PHONE: (540) 432-4492

EMAIL: howard.zehr@emu.edu

Widely known as “the grandfather of restorative justice,” Zehr began as a practitioner and theorist in restorative justice in the late 1970s at the foundational stage of the field. He has led hundreds of events in more than 25 countries and 35 states, including trainings and consultations on restorative justice, victim-offender conferencing, judicial reform, and other criminal justice matters. His impact has been especially significant in the United States, Brazil, Japan, Jamaica, Northern Ireland, Britain, the Ukraine, and New Zealand, a country that has restructured its juvenile justice system into a family-focused, restorative approach.

A prolific writer and editor, speaker, educator, and photojournalist, Zehr actively mentors other leaders in the field. More than 1,000 people have taken Zehr-taught courses and intensive workshops in restorative justice, many of whom lead their own restorative justice-focused organizations.

Zehr was an early advocate of making the needs of victims central to the practice of restorative justice. A core theme in his work is respect for the dignity of all peoples.

From 2008-2011 he served on the Victims Advisory Group of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. He serves on various other advisory boards.

In 2013, Zehr stepped away from active classroom teaching and became co-director, with Dr. Carl Stauffer, of the new Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice.  

In August, 2018, he transitioned to Director Emeritus of the Zehr Institute, with Dr. Johonna Turner taking on the co-director role with Dr. Stauffer.

(2015 was the last year that Dr. Zehr updated the publication and activity information below.)

For his blog, click here
(For his photography, click here)


PHD, Rutgers University
MA, University of Chicago
BA, Morehouse College



The Little Book of Restorative Justice, 2nd Edition (Good Books 2015).

Changing Lenses: Restorative Justice for Our Times, 25th Anniversary Edition (Herald Press, 2015)

Pickups: A Love Story (Good Books, 2013).

What Will Happen to Me (with Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz) (Good Books, 2010).

Critical Issues in Restorative Justice (ed., with Barb Toews) (Criminal Justice Press, 2004).

The Little Books of Justice and Peacebuilding (General series editor; following titles are part of that series)

The Little Book of Contemplative Photography (Good Books, 2005).

The Little Book of Family Group Conferencing, New Zealand Style (Good Books, 2004). With Allan MacRae.

The Little Book of Restorative Justice (Good Books, 2002). (Translated into Japanese, Czech, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Ukrainian, German etc..; an adapted version, with Ali Gohar, published in Pakistan in English, Pushto, Urdu and Persian; also translated in Iran and other countries.)

Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims (Good Books, 2001). (Japanese edition, 2006)

Doing Life: Reflections of Men and Women Serving Life Without Parole (Good Books, 1996). (Japanese edition, 2006)

Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice (Herald Press, 1990; revised 1995; Third Edition 2005). Published in Russian (1998), Japanese (2003), Ukranian (2004), Korean (2011), Arabic, Portuguese (Brazil 2008). Italian and others in process.

Crime and the Development of Modern Society: Patterns of Criminality in Nineteenth Century Germany and France (Croom Helm, 1976).

Recent articles & chapters:

“The Art of Justice: a reply to Brunilda Pali,” Restorative Justice: An International Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, 95-102.

“Art That Heals,” in Mural Arts @ 30, edited by Jane Golden and David Updike, Paulette Moore co-author (Temple University Press, 2014).

“Art Helps Heal Crime’s Wounds,” Invited op-ed (“Opinion”) article, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/6/12

“Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty” in The Promise of Restorative Justice: New Approaches for Criminal Justice and Beyond, edited by Drs. Dussich and Schellenberg (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010)

“Intersection of Restorative Justice with Trauma Healing, Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding, Journal for Peace and Justice Studies, Vol. 18., No. 1-2, 20-30.

Essay and photos in Visual Restoration by Phoebe Zinman, (Philadelphia, PA: Mural Arts Program, 2009)

Cover endorsements for various books including Sunny Schwartz, Dreams from the Monster Factory (Scribner) and Cheryl Swanson, Restorative Justice in a Prison Community (Lexington Books)

Forward for Elaine Enns & Ched Myers, Ambassadors of Reconciliation, Vol. II: Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking (forthcoming, Orbis)

“The Role of Restorative Justice in Peacebuilding,” Peace Prints: South Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 2008, 19-36

“Restorative Justice in Death Penalty Cases: Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach.”– chapter to be included in John Dussich and Jill Schellenberg, Restorative Justice in Unlikely Places (forthcoming)

Foreword to Paul Redekop, Changing Paradigms: Punishment and Restorative Discipline (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2007)

“Why Can’t We Just Apologize?”, Crime Victims Report, Vol 11, No. 3, July/August 2007 p. 38.

Foreword to new English edition of Nils Christie, Limits to Pain (2007).

Preface to the Japanese edition of The Little Book of Restorative Justice.

Short column in New Zealand for “Ideas from the Edge,” _New Zealand Inspired_(UK), Feb/Mar. 2008 (p. 30).

“Doing Justice, Healing Trauma: The Role of Restorative Justice in Peacebuilding” Peace Track, Spring 2008 (WISCOMP, India).

Foreword, Martin Wright, Restoring Respect for Justice, 2nd edition (UK: Waterside Press, 2008)

Foreword, Jarem Sawatsky, Justpeace Ethical Guide for Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding (working title; Cascade Books, forthcoming)

Foreword, Margot Van Sluytman, Sawbonna: I See You. Dialogue of Hope (forthcoming)

“The Core Meaning of Restorative Justice, ” www.washingtonspark.org, 14 April 2007.

“Slavery Apology: admit wrongs; realize lasting impact,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed, 3/13/07.

“Capital Punishment is about vengeance, not justice,” Sojourners, April 2007 (46-47).

“A Christmas reflection on the death penalty” – released by EMU news service and used by various publications, 12/06.

Op-ed piece on apology – released by EMU news service and used by various publications, 3/07.

“Reframing Justice,” http://kcstories.com/kcolivebranch/WordPress.

“Signposts and markers on a circuitous road: Standards and values in restorative justice,” in New Frontiers in Restorative Justice, Warwick Tie, Shirley Juelich and Vicky Walters (eds.). (Auckland, New Zealand: Massey University Center for Justice and Peace Development, 2006).

“Justice: Retribution or Restoration,” http://www.peaceworkmagazine.org, September 2006.

“The Ideas of Engagement and Empowerment,” in Handbook of Restorative Justice, Dan Van Ness and Gerry Johnstone (eds.) (UK: Willan, 2006) (Co-author Jennifer Larson Sawin)

Scholarly Presentations and Abstracts

2014-2015 presentations include:

“A vision for restorative justice in the next decade,” public lecture at National Institute of Criminal Sciences (INACIPE), Mexico City, 7/7/14
Public lecture, “Wild Dreams and Realistic Visions,” Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 10/20/14
“The Art of Justice,” public lecture and workshop, MacEwan University, Edmonton, AB, Canada 11/15/14
Public lecture (After Selma: The Challenge of Human Rights and Justice), University of Alabama Birmingham 3/19/15; also guest instructor in two university classes.

2013-2014 presentations:

“A vision for restorative justice in the next decade,” public lecture at National Institute of Criminal Sciences (INACIPE), Mexico City, 7/7/14
Critical commentator keynote, Roundtable Discussion on the Future of Restorative Justice Policy in Aotearoa, Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand10/16-17/14
Meeting with Urban Vision, Wellington, New Zealand 10/19/14
National Restorative Justice Conference, Banff, AB, Canada 11/17-18/14: Keynote: “Looking Back to Look Forward;” Moderator, restorative justice participant panel; participant, closing Samoan circle
Keynote, Gemeineschaft Home annual dinner, Harrisonburg, VA 4/11/15
Keynote, Re-visioning Justice in America conference, Nashville, TN 4/18/15
Taught class, Baptist Seminary, Richmond, VA 2/4/15
Met with class, Talladega College, Talladega, AL 3/20/15

2013-2014 presentations include:

Lecture, “Intersection of RJ with trauma healing, conflict transformation and peacebuilding,” DePauw University, Greencastle, PA, 4/4/14
Film discussion facilitation and lecture, Notre Dame University, Center for Social Concerns, Notre Dame, IN, 4/7-8/14
Closing keynote, Resistance to Mass Incarceration: Explore Restorative Justice in Chicago teach-in, Criminal Justice Society, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL, 4/10/14
“Restorative Justice and the Mennonites: What Were We Thinking?, Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society, Eastern Mennonite University, 4/14/14, with Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz
Skype presentation to class, St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT, Robert Brenneman professor, 3/31/14
Lecture to undergraduate honors class& evening public lecture, University of North Carolina Greensboro 10/30/13
Skype presentation to class, St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT, Robert Brenneman professor, 3/31/14

2011-2012 presentations include:

Co-instructor, RJ class, NARPI (Northeast Asia Regional Peace Institute) 8/16-17 (with Jae Young Lee and Carl Stauffer) intensive 5-day restorative justice course, Seoul, South Korea
Lecture, Higher Education Symposium, 2011 Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice, Harrisburg, PA 11/2/11
First Liz Elliott Memorial Lecture, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada 11/21/11
Skype presentation to Mindanao Peaebuilding Institute, Philippines 5/29/12
Guest lecturer, criminal justice class, National College, Harrisonburg 7/19/11
Seoul, South Korea 8/8-8/18: Lecture, Ewha Women’s University Law School 8/11 (RJ Centre sponsor) Lecture, Soongshil University (Social Welfare Dept. sponsor) 8/12 Lecture, Korea Institute of Criminology 8/12

2010-2011 presentations:

Canadian School of Peacebuilding, Canadian Mennonite University 6/28-7/2/2010
Plenary speaker and panelist and workshop facilitator, 3rd National Restorative Justice Conference, Raleigh, NC 6/8-9/11
Public lecture, University of Hamburg, Germany 11/19/10
All-day seminar, Institute for Peace Theology, University of Hamburg, Germany, 11/20/10
All-day seminar, ComPax, Bienenberg Theological Seminary, Switzerland 11/10