By Christopher Zoukis As the school-to-prison pipeline system continues to be under scrutiny, schools in the Los Angeles area are working to reduce this, armed with mounting evidence that harsh punishment for small offenses at an early age does not reduce crime rates, but makes it more likely that offenders to go to prison than…

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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 Christopher Zoukis There’s little doubt that the criminal justice system in the United States is in need of reform. Much greater than population or crime rate growth are the number of people behind bars and the costs associated with keeping them locked up. Even small and inexpensive programs can have profound results in terms…

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