Tony Fabelo: An Expert in the Intersection of Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice Reform

Dr. Tony Fabelo’s work at the crossroads of restorative justice and criminal justice reform has been transformative in shaping the modern conversation around these topics. A respected researcher, policy advisor, and justice reform advocate, Fabelo has spent over three decades analyzing criminal justice policies, their impacts, and exploring restorative alternatives. This article will delve into Fabelo’s contributions to these critical areas.

Background and Career

Tony Fabelo holds a Ph.D. in Criminology from Florida State University. He has served as the Director of Research at the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments (CSG), where he led studies analyzing criminal justice policy across multiple U.S. states. Prior to his work with CSG, he was the Executive Director of the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council for over two decades, advising state leadership on criminal justice policy.

Intersection of Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice Reform

Fabelo’s work intersects restorative justice and criminal justice reform in several crucial ways. His research underscores the negative impacts of punitive criminal justice policies, particularly on marginalized communities. Fabelo emphasizes the need to move from a punitive to a rehabilitative approach—central to restorative justice—believing that this shift is integral to meaningful criminal justice reform.

He advocates for community-based restorative justice practices, such as victim-offender mediation and peacemaking circles, as alternatives to traditional punitive measures. Fabelo argues these practices not only address the harm caused by crime but also help reintegrate offenders into society and reduce recidivism rates.

Major Contributions

One of Fabelo’s most significant contributions is his comprehensive analysis of justice reinvestment. His work highlights the economic, social, and community benefits of shifting resources from punitive measures to preventive and restorative practices. This analysis has shaped policy discussions at both state and national levels, influencing a broader trend towards justice reinvestment.

Fabelo also played a pivotal role in the Texas Justice Reinvestment Initiative. His research and policy recommendations guided the shift from building new prisons to investing in community-based treatment and supervision programs. This initiative resulted in significant reductions in crime and recidivism rates, demonstrating the effectiveness of Fabelo’s restorative approach.

Recognition and Impact

Fabelo’s contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Society of Criminology’s Vollmer Award and the National Criminal Justice Association’s Hatfield Award for Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Research and Policy. His research and advocacy have influenced criminal justice reform policies in many U.S. states and inspired a new generation of researchers and policymakers.

His impact is most evident in the growing acceptance of restorative justice practices within criminal justice systems. Fabelo’s work has propelled the recognition that addressing harm, rehabilitating offenders, and restoring community relationships are essential aspects of effective justice.


Dr. Tony Fabelo’s work at the intersection of restorative justice and criminal justice reform has reshaped the way we perceive and approach justice. He has underscored the need for a paradigm shift from a punitive approach to a restorative one. His research and advocacy in justice reinvestment have paved the way for meaningful policy changes that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment. His work continues to inspire reform efforts across the country, emphasizing that justice is not just about retribution but also about restoration, healing, and prevention.