Crafting Restorative Justice: Indiana inmates honor Supreme Court with new conference table

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indiana Court Times on 11/20/2023 by Vincent Morretino, Communication & Design Specialist Office of Communication, Education & Outreach

The five Supreme Court Justices regularly meet to discuss cases and administrative matters. The table where they now sit was designed and constructed by inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. The men who are a part of the prison program harnessed exceptional woodworking skills to make the new table for the Indiana Supreme Court’s conference room into a remarkably impressive work of art.

The Indiana-grown hardwoods used to construct the table include birch, cherry, maple, oak, and walnut. Weighing in at more than 800 pounds, the one-piece base of the 6-by-14-foot table was carried by twelve people up two flights of stairs. While less cumbersome, the accompanying drawers and tabletop sections required a team effort to get them in place.

The tabletop features the seal of the Indiana Supreme Court, engraved by a computer-controlled router (CNC) machine, hand-painted in black and gold, and safely protected under tempered glass. The geometric inlaid border along the tabletop matches the inlaid border of the conference room’s wooden floor, and the side edges of the table bear the engraved and hand-painted names of all 111 justices. This thoughtful inclusion not only honors the history of the court but also underscores the enduring commitment to uphold the principles of justice in Indiana.

Further details include machined brass drawer pulls and ports for charging and connecting electronic devices. Underneath the table, the words “Indiana Supreme Court,” flanked on both sides by the court’s seal, are engraved and painted onto the center stretcher. The previous conference room table, rumored to pre-date the current Statehouse, has been relocated to the justices’ robing room.

“This is more than a table. We sit here and discuss what justice means in our state. It’s profound to know how and where it was crafted.”

Chief Justice Loretta Rush