Marquette University News Release

Marquette Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative hosts conference on crime

November 3, 2008

Milwaukee’s Safe Streets Project: Successes and Challenges


Crime in Milwaukee and the progress of the first year of the Safe Streets Initiative will be the topics as law enforcement officers, city leaders, crime experts and community members come together for the fifth annual conference of Marquette University Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 8:30 a.m. — 4 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Union ballroom, 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave.


Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic will welcome participants, and the keynote address will be delivered by Professor David M. Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, a nationwide leader in crime reduction strategies. Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette Law School, and Janine P. Geske, distinguished professor of law and former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, will also give remarks.


The conference will also feature a stirring panel, “Anatomy of a crime in Milwaukee.” Mary Kay Balchunas, whose son Jay was murdered while on duty as an undercover officer for the State Department of Justice, and WMCS radio personality Cassandra Cassandra, whose son Christopher Roberson was murdered in 2007, will discuss the events of these homicides and their impact on the larger community. Dr. Mallory O’Brien, director of the Milwaukee Homicide Commission, will give an overview of what the commission has learned about homicides in the city over the last three years.


For the first time this year, the conference will conclude with the presentation of the Urban Unsung Heroes “Starfish Awards.” This award will recognize three individuals who have gone unrecognized for their service, compassion and leadership in the community. Anonymous donors from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation made this $2500 monetary award possible for the each of the winners who have made vital contributions to the City of Milwaukee.


The conference will also feature an awards presentation to local elementary and high school students who participated in an essay and art contest describing their “heroes.” More than 100 students entered the contest; eight winners were chosen in various categories. The art work will be on display during the conference.


A full conference schedule is available online.  Media are invited to attend all or part of the event and should call Brigid O’Brien Miller at 414-288-7445. Members of the public should register online.


More information about the Safe Streets Initiative:


Through a U.S. Department of Justice grant, Milwaukee initiated a city-wide crime reduction project known as Safe Streets, concentrating on three main areas: law enforcement, corrections and community engagement. Marquette Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative, directed by Distinguished Professor of Law and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine P. Geske, leads the community portion of the project. The model is an innovative prototype aimed at reducing crime by aligning law enforcement resources, engaging the community and assisting offenders re-entering the community to decrease recidivism. The Safe Streets Initiative targets Milwaukee Police Districts 2 and 5, on the south and north sides of the city. Marquette Law School employs two community coordinators that serve at the heart of the project under the Restorative Justice Initiative.


More information about keynote speaker Dr. David M. Kennedy:


Dr. David M. Kennedy is the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control and professor of anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. From 1993 through 2004, Kennedy was a senior researcher and adjunct professor at the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. His work focuses on strategies for assisting troubled communities. He has written and consulted extensively in the areas of community and problem-solving policing, police corruption, and neighborhood revitalization. He has performed field work in police departments and troubled communities in many American and foreign cities.


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