State criminal prosecutors, public defenders and other groups within the Colorado criminal justice system are teaming to launch a new program to expand restorative justice in the state.
Restorative Justice (RJ) is defined as a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.
Studies show RJ practices help reduce recidivism and enhance an offender’s sense of accountability and remorse for their offense. In addition, victims overwhelmingly report high satisfaction with their RJ experience.
Colorado is already considered a leader in the implementation of restorative justice practices but as part of plans to further ramp up that effort, the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, the Office of the Denver District Attorney, and the Colorado Restorative Justice Council through the State Court Administrator’s Office have signed an agreement in which, for the first year of the program and for any renewal thereafter, the State Court Administrator’s Office will annually provide $50,000 to the Denver DA’s Office and the State Public Defender’s Office for the implementation of RJ education effort.
According to a Colorado State Judicial Department press release, The RJ program launch also dedicates an attorney from the Denver District Attorney’s Office and the State Public Defender’s Office to work collaboratively to analyze current best practices and policies, understand the barriers to implementing RJ practices, and educate prosecutors and defense attorneys statewide about RJ and the benefits of RJ practices.
KGNU’s Hannah Leigh Myers spoke with Denver District Attorney, Beth McCann, about restorative justice, the new program launch and her experiences with the RJ system.