By Christopher Zoukis Because he viewed what he called the “devastating” consequences of being convicted of a felony were sufficient punishment, a federal judge in Brooklyn has chosen to ignore federal sentencing guidelines and impose just a year of probation as the sentence for a woman convicted of smuggling cocaine in this country and possessing…

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Dianne Frazee-Walker is the founder of Full Circle Restorative Justice (FCRJ) for the 11th Judicial District of Colorado, Chaffee County. (FCRJ) was formed in 2006 as a non-profit 501(c) 3 entity whose purpose was to provide an alternative route for young adult and juvenile first-time offenders entering the revolving court system.

The mission of (FCRJ) is “To enhance the safety of our community by addressing offender accountability and to empower victims through a supportive conflict resolution process.”  

For the full story of (FCRJ)  http://www.prisoneducation.com/prison-education/

There are many advantages to using restorative justice as a form of mediation to resolve crime-related conflict. 

Offenders have an opportunity to face their victims and participate in creating a contract for repairing the harm. Victims, who are willing to participate in the process, are empowered by having a voice about how they were affected by the crime and what can be done to restore the damage.

The dialogue that takes place in a restorative circle has the potential of healing both parties. Offenders who participate in the restorative conversation are less likely to reoffend because hearing how their behavior impacted their victims and giving identity to their victims provides offenders with a sense of empathy, accountability, and responsibility that they do not have access to when there is no contact with their victims.

When restorative justice is used to rehabilitate offenders the recidivism rate is less than 10%.

Pete Lee, Colorado State Representative was reelected to represent House District 18 in 2010. Soon after being reelected, Mr. Lee drafted HB-11-1032, which gives victims of some crimes the right to meet face-to-face with the offender under highly-regulated circumstances, and allows for sentences that focus on compensating and repairing harm to victims. The bill passed unanimously.

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Dianne Walker still recalls the moment she had a revelation about taking action with the criminal justice system. August 13, 2004, Walker concluded a four month ordeal dealing with a false allegation against her. Prior to the incident Walker owned and operated a nail salon in Salida, Colorado. She had no knowledge of how the justice system operates and had never been arrested.  Dianne Frazee-Walker / Image courtesy plus.google.com

Walker’s eyes were open to what actually happens when an individual is accused of a crime. A plea-bargain was made, Walker was sentenced to two-years probation after coming extremely close to spending time in jail. She was rushed out of the court room and that was that.

The baffling veracity of the criminal justice system became clear to Walker. The truth is not a priority nor are the victim and offender encouraged to interact with each other. The main objective is to ensure the offender is punished and pays by either probation fees or incarceration time.   

Walker was bewildered with the entire process and knew she could not merely walk away after experiencing the reality of what goes on within the justice system. In Walker’s mind, the day she gazed at the court document stating her decree, marked the beginning of a life-long quest to advocate for a more authentic way to process cases through the justice system.

Full Circle Restorative Justice was founded in 2006 for the purpose of enhancing the safety of the community by holding offenders accountable, and empowering victims through a supportive conflict resolution process.

The legal system asks: What laws have been broken? Who did it? What do they deserve?

Restorative Justice asks: Who has been hurt? What are their needs? Whose obligations are these? 

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Restorative justice is a practice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime by bringing victims, offenders, and community members together to reconcile how that will be done. Outcomes from the process can be transformational.

Dr. Howard Zehr, the pioneer of restorative justice in the United States, proclaims, “A restorative justice framework focuses on repairing the harm done to victims and the community through a process of negotiation, mediation, victim empowerment, and reparation. Within this framework, crime and delinquency present a unique opportunity to build relationships and reach an agreement through a collaborative process.”   Image courtesy moj.gov.jm

The process has been utilized with juvenile first time offenders and proven valuable for reducing the rate of reoffending. Recidivism is reduced from 30% using the conventional punitive system down to 8% using restorative practices with youthful offenders.

Restorative justice approaches to minor delinquency or criminal violations have gained popularity in the U.S. and elsewhere since the 1970s and are increasingly employed as responses to serious delinquency or adult criminal behaviors.

The restorative justice process traditionally involves victims and offenders confronting each other in a conference or also referred to as a circle. Both the victim and offender are voluntary participants. A facilitator and co-facilitator along with community members are also present.

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker It was the morning of May 23rd, 2012.  Sharletta Evans and her older son, Hurd, wereapprehensive when they walked into the prison to meet the man who murdered her three-year-old son and Hurd’s little brother 17 years ago. Raymond Johnson stood up from where he was sitting and solemnly lowered his head in…

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

The first time Jeanette Holtham, Founder and President of The Youth Transformation Center visited a youth prison she was scared to death.  Image courtesy of youthtransformationcenter.org

Holtham is a petite red head with a serene composure, but her aspirations are much larger.  She is no longer intimidated by rough looking teens masked with baleful tattoos, multiple piercings, and an array of trinkets hanging from every body part. Holtham knows there are incredible young people hidden behind the masquerading attire.  

Holtham is appalled at the 30-50% drop out rate of juveniles ages 12-17 in Colorado, and the 62,000 that are suspended. She is on a mission to salvage the lives of these young people.  Holtham is collaborating with Colorado school districts and the Department of Youth Corrections to make this happen.  

Holtham is one of the pioneers of a growing global phenomenon called restorative justice, which is a set of principles used to hold offenders accountable for the harm he or she has caused,  provide victims with a voice about how the criminal action has affected them, and how the damage should be repaired .

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Janine Geske / Photo courtesy of icle.orgBy Dianne Frazee-Walker

While attending a restorative justice conference in 2006, they sat down to eat lunch in the cafeteria at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. A friendly blond woman sat next to them with her tray. She introduced herself as Janine. The group carried on a conversation about restorative justice, which is a principle used most commonly within the justice system that brings victims and offenders together in a circle with a facilitator and other affected members of the community. The main objective of restorative justice is for the offender to be accountable for the harm caused by his/her actions, the victim to express the impact the crime had on them, and to have a voice as to how the harm should be repaired.

Later that day, they attended a presentation within the conference about a unique peace circle that takes place at maximum security prisons. The program brings convicted murderers and family members of murder victims together in a three day process that transforms not only the offenders, but reconciles the pain for the diseased victim’s family members as well.   

They were surprised to see the woman they met at lunch earlier facilitating the lecture. Janine Geske, former justice and judge of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and professor at Marquette University Law School was speaking about her experience facilitating peace circles with convicted killers and family members of murdered victims inside prison walls.

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