Jun 7, 2011 11:18 PM by Jeannette Hynes
Governor John Hickenlooper has signed a restorative justice bill into law. The ceremony took place inside an old courtroom in the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs.
The law expands programs for juvenile offenders and creates a similar program for adult offenders. Offenders who are not eligible for restorative justice programs include people charged with a sex offense, domestic violence, stalking, or violation of a protection order.
Restorative justice allows victims and defendants to meet face to face on a voluntary basis. Victims have a chance to ask questions and get some closure and offenders, in some cases, can restart their lives.
Those who have worked in restorative justice programs say the number of people who re-offend after meeting their victims goes down dramatically.
"Even hardened criminals buckle at the knees at having to do that. It's a very powerful transformational process," explains Jeannette Holtham, president and founder of the Youth Transformation Center.
"Locking people up doesn't make us necessarily safer in the long run. There are other ways to look at these issues. Diversion programs, restorative justice for both adults and juveniles; they are more effective and more efficient in giving us a safe community," remarks Dan May, district attorney for the 4th Judicial District in Colorado.
Some studies show reductions in recidivism rates to as low as 10 percent when restorative justice programs are used.