(Aug. 7) – A new law funding and expanding the state’s adult and juvenile restorative justice programs went into effect today, the 90th day after the close of the 2013 legislative session.

HB13-1254, sponsored by Rep. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs), was supported by victims’ groups and a bipartisan group of district attorneys including David Mahonee, Jeff Chostner, Stan Garnett and Ken Buck. It establishes four restorative justice pilot projects for juvenile offenders.

Restorative justice gives crime victims who choose to participate the chance to meet face-to-face with their offender. By bringing victims, offenders and community members together to talk about an offense, restorative justice attempts to promote individual responsibility and repair the harm done.

Under the bill, district attorneys may seek a victim’s consent to offer restorative justice to a juvenile offender the DA deems appropriate for the program. If the victim agrees and the offender successfully completes the program, the offender may avoid further legal action.

“If we can get better results while keeping juveniles out of the system, it’s a win-win,” Rep. Lee said.

At a stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday, the DAs who will be involved with three of the four pilot projects were enthusiastic to get going.

“I’m grateful to these DAs who are willing to take a chance to try something different,” Rep. Lee said. “Colorado is at the forefront of states with legislative support for restorative justice.”

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