Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law Professor and Mediation Clinic Director David Dowling was awarded this month a five-year grant from the County of Riverside Probation Department to support the addition of a new restorative justice program as part of the expanding clinic. The program will offer an unconventional route to finding justice, bringing together the court, District Attorney’s Office, police and probation departments, and students from the Fowler School of Law Mediation Clinic to provide restorative justice services to Riverside County.
The grant will provide $805,585 to the clinic over the five year term, with annual payments of $161,117.
“I’m grateful to the Riverside Probation Department for its continued support of the clinical programs at Chapman,” Professor Dowling said. “This is an exciting opportunity to provide much needed services to the most vulnerable members of the community while also giving students a chance to develop valuable practical skills.”
According to Dowling, the restorative approach relies on a set of principles that guide responses to conflict by focusing on the needs of both victims and offenders. Victims are able to take an active role in the process, providing them with a voice, which they rarely get in the traditional justice system. Offenders, on the other hand, can take responsibility for their actions and make amends by apologizing, returning stolen money or completing community service.
The expansion adds to the Mediation Clinic’s existing services that include aid in civil harassment restraining orders, debt collections, unlawful retainer, small claims trial de novo matters, and limited civil cases. This is the third time in as many years that the clinic has expanded its reach. In 2013, Dowling worked with Fowler School of Law students to create the Juvenile Hall Conflict Resolution Clinic to help at-risk juveniles develop skills to help them deal with conflict and resolve disputes in a positive way. The program invites youth for a 10-week mediation skills class along with one-on-one individualized mentoring. Since its start, Fowler School of Law students have mentored more than 250 youths referred by Juvenile Hall staff.
Most recently, the clinic updated its juvenile mediation services to include a Juvenile Restorative Justice Clinic, which inspired the creation of a new, larger restorative justice program.