Justice and Peace: A Radical Reconsideration of Public Safety – A Roundtable Discussion

Oct 7, 2021
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Herschella ConyersUniversity of Chicago Law School

Michael JaycoxSeattle University

Michael ScottArizona State University

Tobias WinrightSaint Louis University

8:00 PM ET | 7:00 PM CT | 5:00 PM PT

This zoom webinar event is free and open to the public. Presented by Seattle University and The Catholic Criminal Justice Reform Network

Nearly fifty years ago, Pope St. Paul VI said, “If you want Peace, work for Justice.”  Echoing his words, “No Justice, No Peace” has become the chant of protesters from Seattle to Atlanta seeking freedom not only from excessive use of force by police but also from unjust inequities across social and political structures.  This roundtable presentation invites policing scholars in the fields of law, criminology, and theological ethics to explore how we might build peace on a foundation of justice. The interdisciplinary panel will address the future of public safety through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching.

Professor Herschella Conyers (University of Chicago Law School) bleakly assesses the current state of affairs: “[R]eform must begin … with an acknowledgement of the sad history and present conditions that have left the people totally alienated from the police, and afraid for their physical and emotional safety.”  Similarly, Professor Michael Scott (Arizona State University) points to a possible source of guidance: “[I]nsofar as the Catholic Catechism represents a coherent and comprehensive moral code, and if one accepts the proposition that law, law enforcement and governance must, minimally, be moral, then the Catholic Catechism...merits being consulted on police reform.” “In dialogue with the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, Professor Michael Jaycox (Seattle University) argues that “a credible Catholic commitment to pursuing the common good would have to include, at minimum, ensuring whatever social conditions are necessary for Black freedom from white violence.”  To advance the common good, Professor Tobias Winright (St. Louis University) suggests that involving “the police in other community and social peacekeeping activities serves to contextualize, moderate and restrain that use of force, ensuring that it is a last resort.” 

This panel serves as the keynote event for a three-day colloquium addressing Catholic perspectives on criminal justice reform. The workshops and public lectures include leading scholars examining how Catholic tradition and social thought might inform the challenges confronting today’s American criminal justice system.


Herschella G. Conyers is a clinical professor of law and the Director of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.  The clinic affords law students a supervised opportunity to provide direct client representation while working on juvenile justice issues including policy initiatives, legislation, and systemic litigation.  The clinic works with other institutional players to advance reforms in the criminal and juvenile justice arena. In recent years CJP has collaborated with the Illinois Judicial Council in presenting symposia on understanding juveniles involved in the system. In addition to her clinic, Professor Conyers also co-teaches the Intensive Trial Practice Workshop and a seminar called Life (and Death) in the Law. Before joining the law school faculty, Professor Conyers served as an assistant public defender in the First Municipal, Felony Trial and Multiple Defendants divisions of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. During her time in MDD, she handled mostly capital cases. Before leaving the Public Defender’s Office, Professor Conyers also served as a Supervisor in the First Municipal Division and Deputy Chief of the Sixth District in Bridgeview. Professor Conyers is a graduate of both the University of Chicago’s College and Law School.

Michael P. Jaycox is Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University. His current research focuses on theological and ethical critiques of whiteness, as it is found embedded in dominant U.S. culture and in social institutions such as policing and healthcare. He considers constructive responses to these systemic problems that are grounded in ethical commitments to justice, flourishing, responsibility, and reparation, while also sustaining a dialogue with Black intellectual traditions, both Christian and secular. He employs a qualitative ethnographic methodology to incorporate ethical insights from grassroots movements working toward racial justice, both in St. Louis and in Seattle. His articles can be found in several academic and professional journals, including Political Theology, Religions, Horizons, Health Progress, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and Developing World Bioethics. He is currently working on a forthcoming book project on systemic racism, queer theory, and bioethics. He holds a Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College and an M.Div. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

Michael Scott is a clinical professor at Arizona State University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University and the director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, a research center that produces and disseminates information about how police can effectively and fairly address specific public-safety problems. Scott was formerly a clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School; chief of police in Lauderhill, Florida; special assistant to the chief of the St. Louis, Missouri, Metropolitan Police Department; director of administration of the Fort Pierce, Florida, Police Department; a senior researcher at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in Washington, D.C.; legal assistant to the police commissioner of the New York City Police Department; and a police officer in the Madison, Wisconsin, Police Department. In 1996, he received PERF's Gary P. Hayes Award for innovation and leadership in policing. Scott holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tobias Winright is associate professor of health care ethics and theology at the Albert Gnaigi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University. He received his M.A. and  Ph.D. in moral theology and Christian ethics from the University of Notre Dame, and his M.Div. from Duke University Divinity School. His research areas span Catholic moral theology, Bioethics, ethics of war and peace, environmental ethics, and criminal justice ethics. Editor and author of numerous books and essays, his most recent publications include editorship of the T&T Clark Handbook of Christian Ethics (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2021), and Serve and Protect: Selected Essays on Just Policing (Cascade, 2020).