Monday, March 31, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter today signed into law House Bill 08-1117, which is designed to help keep youthful offenders from turning into hardened adult criminals by allowing them to participate in restorative justice programs in certain circumstances.
The legislation was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Merrifield and Sen. John Morse. It allows – when appropriate – for juvenile offenders to meet with their victim and court officials to agree to some type of service work that would repair, repay or restore the harm they have caused.
"By making juvenile offenders take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, we can teach them that the decisions they make, both good and bad, will affect the course of their life," Gov. Ritter said. "Repairing the harm that someone has caused can be the thing that matters most in the criminal-justice system. As a former prosecutor, I've seen too many people start out committing minor crimes as juveniles and escalate to committing serious crimes as adults. We must do everything we can to intervene early and break this cycle."
"As a public school teacher for over 30 years, I've been committed to making a positive difference in the lives of young people," Rep. Merrifield said. "The restorative-justice process is a great opportunity to not only cut recidivism but to also give kids another chance, a second chance, to turn their lives around. It also gives victims a chance to have closure. It's another tool in the criminal-justice tool box."
HB 1117 passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support – 63-1 in the House and 33-0 in the Senate. It was supported by the Colorado District Attorneys' Council and the Colorado Department of Public Safety.