In Denver, there is a growing alternative to the criminal justice system known as restorative justice. Introduced into state law in 2007, restorative justice offers victims greater say in the judicial process while also lessening some of the other consequences that accompany traditional judicial processes for defendants. Judges in Colorado can consider restorative justice before or during sentencing, though this alternative is not always used.
In Colorado, judges are required to inform defendants that Restorative Justice is available at initial hearings and before sentencing. Colorado law requires that defendants considering restorative justice must take responsibility for their actions, be willing to make a tangible contribution to the community or the victim to repair the harm done, and exhibit some contrition.
For juveniles, judges can recommend evaluation for restorative justice as an alternative sentencing option. In addition to this, judges can also order defendants to be evaluated for suitability in a restorative justice program, talk with prosecutors to see if the victim(s) are interested in fixing the harm done to them through a restorative justice program, and consider making restorative justice as a part of any sentencing or sanctions.
When restorative justice is put into practice, facilitators meet with offenders and victims to prepare them for a meeting to discuss what happened and to see if there is a way for any harm to be repaired. In some cases, community members participate in these discussions to show the rippling effects of the crime on the community. All parties are given equal chances to be heard during the discussions to assure that everyone plays a part in this community-focused version of criminal justice. At the completion of these discussions, the offender and those harmed make a deal to fix, to the greatest extent possible, the harm done, set with deadlines and measurable ways to ensure completion of the agreement.
The statistics from cases where restorative justice has been applied show that 90% of offenders have fully completed their agreements, and of that 90%, only 10% have shown to have another offense the following year.
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Call him today at 720.819.7317.