by Chet Hardin
State Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, has had a successful freshman year. His first bill was signed into law at the end of March, and as we noted this week, his bill to help soldiers deployed overseas vote has won wide bipartisan support and looks to be on track for the governor's desk.
Today, his office is announcing that his restorative justice bill (HB 11-1032) has passed initial reading in the House. The idea behind restorative justice is to allow victims to come face-to-face with their offender, "allowing for sentences that focus on repairing harm to victims and communities promoting acceptance of responsibility," as his office's press release states.
More from his release:
“Restorative justice is a simple concept that can do a world of good for victims of crimes and those who committed the crime, by facilitating healing between the two parties,” said Rep. Lee. “It can also save the state money by reforming our justice system.”
Restorative justice is the process of bringing victims, defendants and community members together to talk about an offense and repairing the harm done. Good candidates for restorative justice conferences are those who accept responsibility, show remorse and regret, and are willing to repair the harm caused to the victim and the community.
This bill, in addition to expanding restorative justice in the juvenile system introduces it into the adult system for the first time. Furthermore, the bill expands the Victim Rights Act, encourages schools to adopt restorative justice policies for student misconduct and authorizes the Department of Corrections to set up a pilot program for victim offender dialogues.
The bill, which will be heard on final reading in the House next week, is sponsored by Senator Linda Newell, D-Littleton, in the Senate.