New law promotes restorative justice for juvenile offenders

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Law reflects state findings on evidence-based crime-fighting

OLYMPIA—Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed into law a new “restorative justice” judicial option that encourages non-violent juvenile offenders to take responsibility for their actions and repair the harm their crimes have done to victims and the community.

“Young offenders who accept responsibility for repairing the damage done by their crimes are much less likely to reoffend and hurt others,” said Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland. Goodman sponsored the bill and led it to unanimous passage in the House and Senate.

Restorative justice is a judicial strategy that brings together crime victims, offenders, their families, and relevant community members to help the juveniles understand how their crimes have affected others and what they must do to make sufficient restoration.

According to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), restorative-justice programs could save victims and taxpayers more than $7,000 per case in reduced crime and criminal-justice costs. WSIPP has supplied the research behind much of the state’s progress in implementing evidence-based crime-fighting strategies.

Goodman’s House Bill 1775 allows satisfactory completion of a restorative-justice program to satisfy diversion agreements made with juvenile offenders—but only when participation by the victim and all parties is voluntary.

Restorative-justice agreements, like other diversion agreements, would not be an option for violent crimes or felonies.

The measure also provides the first definition of the concept of “restorative justice” in Washington state law.

“Adding restorative-justice to our crime-fighting toolbox is another great step in using cost-effective best practices to achieve better results,” said Goodman. 

 

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