On March 30 the Seton Hall community was able to join a conversation with Judge Victoria Pratt, a nationally recognized expert in procedural justice and alternative sentencing. She's known for her innovative alternatives to jail for low-level offenders included community service, individual and group counseling sessions, and her signature assignment of introspective essays.
Students, faculty, and administration were all welcome to register for the event titled "The Rhetoric of Respect" where Judge Pratt touched on the importance of fostering a culture of mutual respect in the communities we engage with in the criminal justice system and beyond.
Almost thirty people attended the virtual event. Below are some of the testimonies from attendees about their experience listening to Judge Pratt.
"I was inspired by the way that the principles that were taught to Judge Pratt as a child were carried on to what she does today. I think that it is a powerful message to encourage everyone to treat others with dignity and respect no matter what position we are in. If society embraces these principles of restorative and procedural justice as we move forward, we will have a bright future ahead of us." - Sara Vasquez - Senior, School of Diplomacy
"I really enjoyed this event for it provided regular individuals like myself with an in-depth glimpse of the judicial system. But the most important thing it did was provide us with the opportunity to have a conversation with a judge that understands what is wrong with the system. Because of her understanding, Judge Pratt, is personally doing what is needed to positively change and right the wrongs of a system that almost always discriminates and negatively impacts the lives of African-Americans and the Hispanic communities. I am truly awed by her dedication to her community and all that she does to positively change and impact it simply by listening to and treating the individuals that enter her courtroom with dignity and respect, while providing them a safe space to be heard. The court and judicial systems in the United States should follow Judge Pratt's leadership by ultimately dismantling the unjust practices and overhauling a systematically racist system for the betterment of the society it is supposed to serve." - Darlene Robinson, Asst. Director of Financial Aid
"There is no doubt that, as she carefully advised us to do, Judge Pratt brings everything that she is, every experience and value taught growing up, in her daily interactions in the courtroom. As we severely struggle with criminal justice reform, in this country and around the world, Judge Pratt models an approach that doesn't require money, task groups and outside resources; she simply treats everyone who comes into her courtroom as human—with fairness, dignity and respect. These are the building blocks for trust between community members and should not be exclusive to the criminal justice system. Imagine K-12 schools and institutions of higher education taking on this basic philosophical approach. Imagine what we could accomplish together if each individual ‘felt seen…and heard.'" - Omayra Arocho, Associate Dean, College Engagement and Community Development