Colorado Restorative Justice Pilot Project Bill Passes!

The process of Restorative Justice can provide a profound value to all affected by crime and conflict in its ability to collectively assess harm, determine how to make right, and further, to create conditions where meaning and healing can often occur. As a result, it provides a root-cause process that mitigates cycles of violence and re-offense.

State Representative Pete Lee has just shared a huge victory with advocates and constituents in Colorado with the passage of House Bill 13-1254, The Restorative Justice Pilot Project. This bill, to become law as soon as the Governor signs it, is only the second of its kind in Colorado and represents a significant jump in Restorative processes and practices becoming possible for post-offense cases.

The Peace Alliance has partnered with Rep. Lee and on-the-ground representatives from organizations and Law Enforcement officials to mobilize support for Restorative Justice, and is continuing to build a statewide coalition to raise awareness, advocacy, and education.  We are particularly pleased as this is our first ever state-based advocacy campaign (we have traditionally only worked in support of federal legislation).

We’d love to see its success become a national model for a more healing oriented approach of doing justice in America.

The bill originated in the past year on the tails of the steadily growing efforts to bring to forefront the success rates, cost savings, and stakeholder satisfaction that Restorative Justice provide—in this case within the juvenile system.

This new law will initiate an RJ fund via a $10 surcharge on offender fees.  These dollars will help seed new pilot projects and develop research and evidence on the value of restorative justice. The money will also support a position for a state RJ Coordinator that supports the State RJ Council and RJ programs around the state.

And as Longmont Community Justice Partnership Executive Director Deb Witzel says, “Perhaps most importantly the new law will provide the opportunity to almost all juveniles referred to the justice system.”

More about Restorative Justice:

Restorative justice (also sometimes called reparative justice) is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, instead of satisfying abstract legal principles or punishing the offender. Victims take an active role in the process if they choose to do so, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, “to repair the harm they’ve done—by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service”. Restorative justice involves both victim and offender as well as community and focuses on their needs. In addition, it provides help for the offender in order to avoid future offenses. It is based on a theory of justice that considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offense against an individual or community, rather than the state. Restorative justice that fosters dialogue between victim and offender shows the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability.

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