Back in 2008, the IIRP eForum ran a two-part story: New Colorado Law Authorizes Restorative Justice Conferences for Adjudicated Youth: Part 1  & Part 2. In the US, Colorado has been on the cutting edge in terms of giving offenders and victims options to participate in RJ conferences, and this article profiled a variety of programs around the state.

Now, Colorado has enacted a new law (PDF) which broadens the application of RJ for youth, grants greater rights for victims and extends RJ to adults as well. The law was sponsored in the Colorado State House by Rep. Pete Lee, who drafted the previous law, and Linda Newel in the State Senate.

According to Colorado Capitol Watch, HB11-1032:

...adds restorative justice to the options a court has when it imposes an alternative sentence instead of incarceration or as a part of a probation sentence.

Under current law, restorative justice sentencing provisions are permitted in juvenile cases during advisement, entry of plea, sentencing, and during probation. The bill would make some of those provisions mandatory, including provisions that would require most juveniles to undergo a presentence evaluation to determine whether restorative justice is a suitable sentencing option. Prior to charging a juvenile for the first time, which juvenile would be subject to misdemeanor or petty offenses, the district attorney shall assess whether the juvenile is suitable for restorative justice. If the district attorney determines the juvenile is suitable, the district attorney may offer the juvenile the opportunity to participate in restorative justice rather than charging the juvenile.

The bill directs the department of corrections to establish policies and procedures for facilitated victim-offender dialogues in institutions under the control of the department, which would arrange the dialogues if requested by the victim and agreed to by the offender.

The bill encourages each school district in the state and the state charter school institute to implement restorative justice practices that each school in the district or each institute charter school can use in its disciplinary program.

The bill creates the right for a victim to be informed by the district attorney about the availability of restorative justice practices and the possibility of a victim-offender conference. [Emphasis Added]

Of special note are the provisions that grant victims more rights to have a meeting with offenders in correctional facilities and at various stages of the court process as well as the suggestion that all schools be encouraged to establish RJ practices in terms of school discipline. Judging by how this law builds on the last, I can imagine this bill lays the groundwork for future implementation of restorative practices in schools in general.

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