Bridging the Gap: Lessons Learned from a Reentry Collaboration with Victims and Victim Advocates

Pace Law School to feature creators of innovative rehabilitation curriculum for prisoners on Monday, October 17

WHITE PLAINS, NY, October 4, 2011—In the fall of 2008, an unlikely group of prisoner advocates, victims, and victim advocates came together to produce a cutting-edge curriculum for incarcerated people who have committed homicide-related offenses. The finished product, a 16-week course called “Coming to Terms,” has been used in Sing Sing and Fishkill Correctional Facilities with profound results.

On Monday, October 17, Pace Law School will host a panel discussion among three of the co-creators of the “Coming to Terms” curriculum. Moderated by curriculum co-creator Susan Herman, associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Security at Pace University and former executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, the panel will discuss the history of the project, the process and experience of collaboration, the curriculum it produced, and its resulting policy implications.

“The curriculum provides an opportunity for men and women who are serving long sentences for violent crimes to gain insight, take responsibility for their crimes, and prepare for their eventual release. It takes people on a very personal journey. The program utilizes a victim-focused framework in individual and group settings in select prisons,” said Herman, who is author of Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime.

Preliminary analysis found that “Coming to Terms” participants experienced increased understanding of responsibility, remorse and the impact of their crimes on others, as well as the connection between childhood/ life experiences and their criminal behavior. Participants were also better able to speak openly about their crimes, and express themselves in personal relationships. They showed improved tolerance and understanding for others; awareness of the harmful impact their behaviors may have, and made conscious efforts to reduce their negative impact on others.

Speaking on the October 17 panel will be:

  • Elizabeth Gaynes, executive director of the Osborne Association, a 75-year-old nonprofit dedicated to serving those affected by incarceration and to developing effective approaches for strengthening families and communities, preventing crime and reducing reliance on incarceration. Prior to her 28-year tenure at Osborne, Gaynes was a criminal defense and prisoners’ rights lawyer. She is a nationally-recognized expert on the impact of incarceration and reentry on children and families.
  • Kathy Boudin, who was formerly incarcerated, now serves as director of The Criminal Justice Initiative: Supporting Children, Families and Communities at Columbia University School of Social Work, where she is also an adjunct lecturer. Boudin’s doctoral degree, awarded from Columbia University Teachers College in 2007, focused on the experience of adolescents with incarcerated mothers.
  • Marie Verzulli, whose sister was the victim of a homicide, is now the victim/survivor advocate for New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, where she focuses on programs that fill gaps in victim services and address root causes of crime and violence. She serves on the Restorative Justice Commission of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese; on the boards of Murder Victims’ Families For Human Rights and the Center for Community Justice; and on the advisory committee of the downstate parole reform and prison re-entry project.

WHAT: Panel discussion: “Bridging the Gap: Lessons Learned from a Reentry Collaboration with Victims and Victims Advocates.”

WHERE: Pace Law School (Tudor Room)
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY

WHEN: Monday, October 17, 2011, 6-8:30 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

Media admission by press pass with advanced notice to Lauren Rubenstein. Certain members of the panel will be available to speak to reporters in advance.


Lauren Rubenstein
Manager, Media Relations
cell (914) 329-8680


Pace Law School has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top three programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County.


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