What does a more just system look like?
In this discussion and conversation we'll be exploring what experts and communities are doing around the country, the impacts of restorative justice to address harm in our criminal justice system, and envision what could be possible here in Washtenaw County.
Sarah George is the Chittenden County State’s Attorney, located in Burlington Vermont. She has a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from the University of Connecticut, a Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology from Castleton State College, and a Criminal Law Degree from Vermont Law School. For over six years, Sarah was a Deputy State's Attorney in the Chittenden County State's Attorney's Office, and in January 2017, Sarah was appointed by Governor Phil Scott to be the Chittenden County State's Attorney, eventually formally elected in November 2018. On top of being the elected State’s Attorney, Sarah is an adjunct professor at Champlain College teaching Restorative Justice courses.
Chittenden County Vermont houses nearly one third of the State’s population, is the most diverse county in the State, and they pride themselves on their progressive approach to public safety efforts.
Sarah is the second woman in Vermont history to serve in this role, and since being State’s Attorney, Sarah has focused on ways to overhaul the criminal justice system by finding innovative ways to serve her community. Sarah is dedicated to providing opportunity, intervention and wholistic support to victims, families and offenders; holding individuals accountable, and implementing smart strategies and innovations that promote safe, healthy, and strong communities.
Sia is dedicated to creating a racially and socioeconomically just society, one that affirms and celebrates the inherent value of every individual rather than profiting from the systemic criminalization of low-income, communities of color. Sia first joined Impact Justice in fall 2014 as a program associate with the Restorative Justice Project, collaborating with communities to establish pre-charge restorative justice diversion programs that, without relying on incarceration, center the needs of those affected by crime and support those responsible in taking accountability. She later left for two years to work as a legal fellow at the Prison Law Office. There she engaged in impact litigation and monitored prisons and jails to improve conditions of confinement, specifically focusing on protections for people with physical and developmental disabilities, mental health issues, and serious medical conditions.
Sia rejoined Impact Justice in spring 2018 as a senior program associate with the organization’s National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center, training PREA auditors and working to improve audit quality to ensure sexual safety in confinement spaces. In 2020, Sia transitioned back to Impact Justice’s Restorative Justice Project, this time leading efforts to dismantle the criminal legal system by supporting communities throughout the East Coast and the South in establishing pre-charge, restorative justice diversion programs. She also spends a portion of her time working on Impact Justice’s Building Justice initiative.
Sia graduated from Harvard Law School and Duke University and serves on the Board of Directors for the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison (the country’s first, tuition free and independently accredited college situated inside a prison).
Reuben Jonathan Miller is an Assistant Professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA). His research examines life at the intersections of race, poverty, crime control, and social welfare policy. He is completing a book, titled Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, based on 15 years of research and practice with currently and formerly incarcerated men, women, their families, partners, and friends.
Dr. Miller has conducted fieldwork in Chicago, Detroit, and New York City, examining how law, policy and emergent practices of state and third-party supervision changed the contours of citizenship, activism, community, and family life for poor black Americans and the urban poor more broadly. To capture the effects of crime control on social life in global cities with different public policies, Miller conducts ongoing fieldwork in Glasgow, London and Belgrade. He is currently conducting research on the "moral worlds" of people we've deemed violent and will launch a comparative study of punishment and social welfare policy in the port cities that were most involved in the transatlantic slave trade.
Prior to joining SSA, Dr. Miller was an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan where he served as a Faculty Associate in the Population Studies Center and a Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Afro American and African Studies. He was selected as a Member in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ (2016-17), the world’s leading center for curiosity driven research, a visiting fellow at Dartmouth University (2018) and an Eric and Wendy Schmidt National Fellow at the New America Foundation (2018-19). His work has been published in journals of criminology, human rights, law, psychology, sociology, social work and public health and he is frequently called upon to give media commentary on issues of crime, punishment, race and poverty.
Miller's newest publication, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, will be released in February of 2021. Reviews include two stars from Publishers Weekly and one from Kirkus.
A native son of Chicago’s Southside, Dr. Miller received his Ph.D from Loyola University Chicago, an AM from the University of Chicago, and a BA from Chicago State University.