Restorative Justice for Adults
Restorative justice is an approach to crime that focuses on repairing harm through collaboration and consensus among all impacted parties (offenders, victims, communities, law enforcement agencies, schools and family systems). As utilized within the Diversion Counseling Program in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, the process allows diversion clients to be accountable directly to those who were most impacted by their negative choices, promotes understanding of the breadth and depth of that impact and encourages healing through an agreement about how to most appropriately make amends. Research suggests that restorative justice reduces re-offense rates and promotes a sense of empowerment and healing among victims and communities who often feel detached from and disappointed in more traditional justice models.
The Diversion Counseling Program introduced restorative justice circles in 2006 as a response to offenses ranging from theft and criminal mischief to arson and trespassing. Circles allow for input from all stakeholders. They honor the principles of shared responsibility, engagement and dignity and promote “The Five R’s” of restorative justice: relationship, respect, responsibility, repair and reintegration. Circles progress through three phases: accountability; impact, empathy and insight; and amends, achieved through an agreement among all circle participants about appropriate and meaningful repair.