Promoting Restorative Initiatives for Sexual Misconduct on college campuses

PRISM members gather at a NACRJ meeting in FloridaCampus PRISM members gather at the 2015 NACRJ conference in Florida 

Campus PRISM Project

Restorative justice (RJ) encompasses a range of processes, programs, practices, and policies as well as a philosophical perspective that offers a new approach to addressing the problem of sexual and gender-based misconduct on college campuses. A restorative approach is responsive to individual incidents of misconduct as well as to the broader cultural contexts that support such behavior by offering non-adversarial options for prevention education, resolution, and pathways to safe and accountable reintegration. RJ offers interventions that focus on understanding the harm caused, how to repair harm, how to prevent its reoccurrence, and how to ensure safe communities. RJ offers a way to support survivors to heal from the trauma of victimization, while creating a space for offenders to be accountable for their actions and take steps to reduce their risk of reoffending. Restorative interventions are also used for community building to establish appropriate standards of sexual conduct on campus, reduce fear, and counteract the hostile climate often characterized as “rape culture.”

The Campus PRISM Project (Promoting Restorative Initiatives for Sexual Misconduct) includes an international team of researchers and practitioners who are deeply invested in reducing sexual and gender-based violence by exploring how a restorative approach may provide more healing and better accountability. The Project is coordinated by the Skidmore College Project on Restorative Justice.

Campus PRISM promotes restorative justice processes that…

  • Encourage true accountability through a collaborative rather than adversarial process;
  • Reduce risk of reoffending and provide greater reassurance of safety to survivors/harmed parties and the community;
  • Meet survivors’/harmed parties’ needs for safety, support, and justice; and
  • Create meaningful forums for the examination of hostile campus climates and the development of community-building interventions.

Goals of the Campus PRISM Project:

  • Create space for scholars and practitioners to explore the use of RJ for campus sexual and gender-based misconduct (which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of gender-based misconduct) as an alternative or complement to current practices.
  • Consider the potential and challenges of RJ in light of the national concern about campus sexual assault.
  • Apply lessons learned from the use of RJ in criminal justice sex offenses, e.g. Circles of Support and Accountability, restorative conferencing, and other trauma-informed practices.
  • Gather and disseminate knowledge about RJ practice and research.
  • Explore the potential for multi-campus RJ pilots.

Campus PRISM: A Report on Promoting Restorative Initiatives for Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses

Download the report for free... 

report cover

Campus PRISM Webinar

Watch the webinar for free...



April 14, 2016--Campus PRISM report featured in The Nation:"Can Restorative Justice Change the Way Schools Handle Sexual Assault?"

April 6, 2016--Campus PRISM Project releases new report.

February 17, 2016--Campus PRISM Project Webinar available for free: Restorative Responses to Campus Sexual Assault. Kaaren Williamsen and David Karp with host, Howard Zehr.

September 9, 2015-- The New York Times Editorial Board endorses our work: "An Alternative Approach to Campus Justice"  

Victim Perspectives on RJ

In a essay in The Nation, Deborah Copaken Kogan writes about her perspective on RJ: "Entering the Mind of My Rapist: An Exercise in Extreme Empathy" (2015)

Similarly, Tove Danovich shares her perspective in Aeon: "Was I raped?" (2015)

This short video from England shares the experience of a rape survivor participating in a RJ dialogue with her offender.


Select Research 

Brenner, Alletta. 2013. "Transforming Campus Culture to Prevent Rape: The Possibility and Promise of Restorative Justice as a Response to Campus Sexual Violence." Harvard Journal of Law & Gender.

Karp, David R. 2015. "Restorative Justice at Dalhousie: A Reasoned Alternative to the 'Rush to Judgment."Association for Student Conduct Administration Law and Policy Report. January 29.

Kirven, Stephane Jasmin. 2014. "Isolation to Empowerment: A Review of the Campus Rape Adjudication Process." Journal of International Criminal Justice Research 2:1-15.

Koss, Mary P., Jay K. Wilgus. and Kaaren M. Williamsen. 2014. "Campus Sexual Misconduct: Restorative Justice Approaches to Enhance Compliance with Title IX Guidance." Trauma, Violence & Abuse. 15: 242-257.

Koss, Mary P., and Elise C. Lopez. 2014. "VAWA After the Party: Implementing Proposed Guidelines on Campus Sexual Assault Resolution." CUNY Law Review December 19. 

Llewellyn, Jennifer J, Jacob MacIsaac, and Melissa Mackay. 2015. Report from the Restorative Justice Process at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Dalhousie University.

Llewellyn, Jennifer J., Amanda Demsey and Jillian Smith. 2015. An Unfamiliar Justice Story: Restorative Justice and Education. Reflections on Dalhousie’s Facebook Incident 2015.  Our Schools/Our Selves 25:43-56.

New Zealand Law Commission. 2015. The Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence: Criminal Trials and Alternative Processes. NZLC R136.

Oudshoorn, Judah, Michelle Jackett, and Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz. 2015. The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Sexual Abuse: Hope Through Trauma. New York: Good Books.

Campus PRISM Members

Interest in our project is growing rapidly. We welcome your participation. We have four working groups focusing on prevention, response, reintegration, and project strategy. Contact us with your particular interest or expertise. We are happy to add anyone to our Advisory Group, which receives our email communications and offers advice to the working groups as requested. 

Campus PRISM Co-Chairs

David Karp Skidmore College   Kaaren Williamsen Swarthmore College

Campus PRISM members

Prevention Group     Advisory Group  
Julie Shackford-Bradley (Coordinator) UC Berkeley   Lyndsay Anderson Dalhousie University
Rachel Cunliffe Portland State University   Caitlan Hendrickson University of Arizona
Laura Haave Carleton College   Derrick Franke Michigan State University
Meg Bossong Williams College   Erin Dagle Skidmore College
Nina Harris Swarthmore College   Mariel Martin Skidmore College
      Jordan Perry Hampshire College
Reintegration Group     Gary Pavela National Association of College and University Attorneys 
Robin Wilson (Coordinator) McMaster University   Andrea Seabert Evergreen State University
Ida Dickie Spalding University   Jennifer Berman Antioch College
Rick Shafer Michigan State University   Nadia Bazzy University of Michigan
Charlene Berquist Missouri State University   Carrie Landrum University of Michigan
Melissa Mackay Dalhousie University   Rod Kelley Florida State University
Stephane Kirven Sacred Heart University   Jennifer Broomfield Florida State University
Sheryl Wilson NACRJ Board   Howard Kallem Duke University
      Duke Fisher Learning Labs
 Response Group     Howard Zehr Eastern Mennonite University
Kaaren Williamsen (Coordinator)  Swarthmore College   Jay Wilgus University of Michigan

Jennifer Scott

UNC-Chapel Hill

  Kathleen Sensabaugh

James Madison University

Joan Pennell North Carolina State University   Lauren Ellis James Madison University
Nuri Nusrat Impact Justice   Catherine Spear  University of Virginia
Stacy Vander Velde University of West Virginia   Rachel Storm University of Illinois
Josh Bacon James Madison University   Anne Seymour National Crime Victim Advocate
Elise Lopez  University of Arizona    Ryan Holmes University of Texas - El Paso
      Karen Guttentag Middlebury College
      Gina Smith  Pepper Hamilton Law
Strategy Group     Holly Rider-Milkovich University of Michigan
David Karp (Coordinator) Skidmore College   Anne Bonner Oregon State University
Mary Koss University of Arizona
  Jennifer Anderson University of Otago

Sheryl Wilson



Supriya Poonati

Union College

Kaaren Williamsen Swarthmore College   Deborah Eerkes University of Alberta
Julie Shackford-Bradley UC Berkeley   Chris Hackett University of Alberta
Donna Coker  University of Miami   Jill Atkinson Truckee Meadows Community College
Jennifer Llewellyn Dalhousie University   Caitlin Robertson Gonzaga University  
      Abigail Erle Emerson College
      Millicent Carvalho  Bryn Mawr College
      Leah Soule Know Your IX
      Sheila McMahon Brandeis University