Restorative Justice That Works with Sunny Schwartz

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There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about getting tough on crime. You could say it’s working—in 2007 we had ten million Americans in prison or on probation. But is that really what we’re after? Attorney Sunny Schwartz says, “That ‘tough on crime’ stuff is such a fallacy, and it’s been hijacked. It’s a sham. When you have prisoners doing nothing all day on the backs of our hardworking taxpaying money, with a seventy percent failure rate, you know something is really wrong. We’ve been doing the same thing for 150 years. It’s about time we start getting tough on crime in an effective, smart, and successful way.” She’s developed a highly effective and smart alternative, one that asks prisoners to be accountable to their victims, and puts them in a rigorous program of education and rehabilitation. The results are nothing short of astounding. You’ll be fascinated as this tough-yet-tender, Chicago-born lawyer shares a no-nonsense approach to incarceration, that promises to make us all a little saner and a whole lot safer. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Sunny Schwartz is the designer and creator of the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP), for which she received the Innovations in Government award. Her work has been featured on the Discovery channel, PBS, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and is currently being examined for replication throughout the United States, New Zealand, Poland, and Singapore. She is co-author with David Boodell of:

To learn more about the work of Sunny Schwartz go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How one grandmother brought a room full of violent criminals to tears
  • Why our prisons make criminals more violent than they were when they entered
  • What happened to rehabilitation
  • What our communities really lose when so many dollars are spent on incarceration
  • Why what happens in prison has a direct, personal effect on you and your family

Host: Justine Willis Toms     Interview Date: 5/13/2010       Program Number: 3357

Music Playlist

From Album: Theta Transport
Artist: Tommy Brunjes
2004 Real Music RM 4159

Opening Essay: Track 01 Initial Descent
Music Break 1: Track 02 Field of Depth
Music Break 2: Track 04 Inspiration Wave
Music Break 3: Track 04 Inspiration Wave (reprise)