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Conversion and the Rehabilitation of the Penal System

Mar 4, 2021
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Andrew SkotnickiManhattan College

Cecelia KlingeleUniversity of Wisconsin Law School

Thomas DonnellyCircuit Court of Cook County

This event is co-sponsored by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago, the Boston College Law School, the University of St. Thomas School of LawKolbe House Jail MinistrySt. Paul's Catholic University Center, the Collegium Institute's Legal Humanities Projectthe National Center for the Laity, America Media, and Oxford University Press.

There is growing bipartisan awareness of the need to reform the American criminal justice system. Solutions have been sought for over-criminalization, over-incarceration, and the disproportionate effect of the system upon minority communities. Many have observed a difference between European models of criminal justice, such as that in Germany, and the unique harshness of their American counterpart.

Yet the answer to the ongoing crisis may lie beyond mere policy changes. Professor Andrew Skotnicki of Manhattan College argues that the problems inherent to our criminal justice system are rooted in misguided theology and anthropology. Join Professor Skotnicki and Cecelia Klingele (University of Wisconsin Law School) for their discussion of Skotnicki‚Äôs book, Conversion and the Rehabilitation of the Penal System (Oxford University Press, 2019), moderated by Cook County Judge Tom Donnelly. They will consider the origins of the current criminal justice system, the challenges that it faces, and the resources from the Catholic tradition that may offer a way forward. 

This event is part of the Catholic Criminal Justice Reform Network, a new initiative of the Lumen Christi Institute.

Andrew Skotnicki is professor in theological and criminological ethics at Manhattan College in New York City. He received an undergraduate degree in History from Marquette University, an MA in Ecclesiastical History from the Washington Theological Union, and a Ph.D. in Religion and Society from the Graduate Theological Union. He has published numerous essays on the theological and ethical implications of criminal justice as well as four books, the latest of which Conversion and the Rehabilitation of the Penal System: A Theological Rereading of Criminal Justice (Oxford, 2019) was the recipient of the 2019 Aldersgate Prize. His latest volume, The Prophets Are All Crazy: Injustice, Insight, Insanity, Incarceration is under review for Bristol University Press. He has spent many years working in the jails and prisons of America, including nine years as a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. For the past nine years, he has taught an accredited college course in the jails of New York City. Over 70 of the confined students who have completed the course have received tuition free classes at Manhattan College. 


Cecelia Klingele is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she teaches courses in criminal law, Constitutional criminal procedure, policing, and sentencing and corrections. She is also a faculty associate of the Frank J. Remington Center, the La Follette School of Public Affairs, and the Institute for Research on Poverty. Professor Klingele's academic research focuses on criminal justice administration, with an emphasis on community and institutional corrections. She has served as Associate Reporter for the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code: Sentencing revision (2012-2018), External Co-Director of the University of Minnesota Robina Institute's Sentencing Law & Policy Program (2013-2018), and co-chair of the Academic Committee of the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section (2009-2013). After receiving her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2005, Professor Klingele served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Judge Susan H. Black of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Associate Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court.  She returned to the University of Wisconsin in 2009 as a visiting assistant professor, and has been a permanent faculty member since 2011.


The Honorable Thomas More Donnelly serves as an Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He is assigned to the Law Division. Sworn in as a judge in 2000, he currently serves in the Law Division, Trial Section.  He has tried over 300 jury trials.  He currently sits on the Illinois Judicial College Board of Trustees with a term expiring 2023 and serves as liaison to the Committee on Judicial Education. From 2016 to 2019, he served as the inaugural chair of the Illinois Judicial College Board. Additionally, he serves on the faculty of the National Judicial College and teaches judges around the country. He served on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices from its inception until its final report 2018-2020. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed him as one of two judicial representatives on the Statutory Court Fee Task Force and he served on the task force from its inception until its final report 2016-2019.  He has taught at Loyola Law School for the past thirty years.  While he has taught five different courses, he currently teaches Illinois Civil Procedure. He has taught or lectured at many other law schools:  Marquette, University of Chicago, Washington & Lee, DePaul.  He teaches widely with bar associations and other groups.