(Feb. 10) – Rep. Pete Lee’s restorative justice pilot program, now in its third year of operation in Colorado, got another boost this afternoon when the House Judiciary Committee voted 13-0 to expand it.
Currently, only juveniles who commit a misdemeanor or a class 3, 4, 5, or 6 felony can be chosen to participate in the restorative justice program, and only first offenders are eligible. HB15-1094, sponsored by Rep. Lee, D-Colorado Springs, allows juveniles who commit petty or municipal offenses to be eligible to participate as well. It also allows DAs to waive the first-offense limitation.
“Restorative justice has been good for Colorado so far,” Rep. Lee said. “In response to the requests of district attorney and program operators, this bill makes incremental adjustments that will increase the number of juvenile offenders who are eligible for the program.”
By bringing victims, offenders and community members together to talk about an offense, restorative justice helps to break the cycle of crime by promoting accountability and responsibility. Keeping juveniles out of the criminal justice system and in school is the first step. Research indicates that participation in restorative justice decreases recidivism, reduces costs and increases victim satisfaction with the justice system.