Former Governor Bill Ritter
Founding & Former RJ Council Member Meg Williams
Founding & Former RJ Council Member Greg Brown
On March 29, 2007, then Governor Bill Ritter, signed into law HB 07-1129 which established the Colorado Restorative Justice Coordinating Council (RJ Council) within the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO). The law enumerates several specific items of responsibility for the RJ Council which includes, to the extent resources permit:
- To serve as a central repository for information;
- To support the development of RJ programs;
- To assist with education and training; and
- To provide technical assistance as needed.
In addition to the establishment of the RJ Council, the law also encourages each local juvenile services planning committee to consider restorative justice programs when developing its resources plan. The law also directs the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Board to consider whether a grantee includes restorative justice components in their grant application.
The law also defines the membership of the RJ Council and the appointing authority, which has expanded from 9 appointed members in 2001 to 19 in 2015. The members and their appointing authorities are as follow:
a)A representative from a Statewide Juvenile Justice Council who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety;
b)A representative from the Division of Youth Corrections who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Human Services;
c)A representative from the Department of Public Safety who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety;
d)A representative from the Judicial Department who is appointed by the State Court Administrator;
e)Two representatives from a Statewide Organization(s) whose primary purpose is related to the development and implementation of Restorative Justice Programs who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety;
f)A District Attorney with juvenile justice experience who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council;
g)A Victim’s Advocate within the Judicial Department with Restorative Justice Experience who is appointed by the State Court Administrator; and
h)A representative from the Department of Education who is appointed by the Commissioner of Education.
i)A representative from the State Board of Parole who is appointed by the Chair of the Parole Board
j)A representative of the Department of Corrections who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Corrections;
k)A representative from a nongovernment statewide organization representing victims who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety;
l)Three restorative justice practitioners appointed by the State Court Administrator
m)A representative of the Colorado Juvenile Parole Board appointed by the Chair of the Juvenile Parole Board.
n)A judicial representative from Judicial Branch appointed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Colorado
o)A public defender representative from Office of the Colorado State Public Defender appointed by Colorado State Public Defender; and
p)A Law Enforcement representative appointed by the State Court Administrator
The Council meets every other month, generally on a Friday.
In order to understand the prevalence of restorative justice programs and practices in the state of Colorado, the RJ Council conducted a web-based survey. The survey provided two key findings:
1)Various RJ services were available in all regions of the state and
2)Although non-profit organizations were shown to be the largest provider for RJ programming, there were significant RJ practices occurring within state and local government including probation, diversion, community corrections, courts and human services.
Also, the Colorado Division of Probation Services was awarded funding through a Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) on behalf of the RJ Council and several very important and timely tasks furthered the work of the RJ Council over the course of the 4 years of funding.2008
With the information learned from the survey, the RJ Council launched a central repository which listed programs across the state that provided RJ services. This repository was updated and upgraded in 2010 and is currently housed on the RJ Council’s website. www.staging-rjcolorado.kinsta.cloud
Also, the “Colorado Restorative Justice Council Recommended Guidelines for Training in Restorative Practices” were adopted. These recommendations apply primarily to trainings of facilitators of restorative practices.2009
Colorado’s RJ Council website www.staging-rjcolorado.kinsta.cloud created an online community that restorative justice programs and practitioners can join and have online discussions, schedule and RSVP for trainings and meetings, share documents and tools, download guidelines and monographs and post news and information; the first interactive online community for restorative justice in the country.2010
The Model Standards for Restorative Justice Facilitator’s Code of Conduct and Standards of Training and Practice was prepared in 2012 by the Colorado Coalition of Restorative Justice Directors, with collaborative contributions from RJ Council members. The statewide adaptation of this document was then approved by the Colorado Restorative Justice Council membership.
A statewide Restorative Justice Summit was held in August 2012. A total of 250 people from across Colorado and beyond attended the summit. Action plans developed from that event guided the RJ Council activities for three years.2012
HB13-1254 was passed creating a Restorative Justice Cash Fund that funded a part-time position that staffed the State RJ Council and oversaw the development of other statewide RJ efforts. The bill also established the juvenile diversion restorative justice pilot project that was designed to collect specific data including demographics, satisfaction data and attempt to collect cost information.
Additional seats were created for the RJ Council membership which included:
- A representative from the State Board of Parole who is appointed by the Chair of the Parole Board
- A representative of the Department of Corrections who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Corrections;
- A representative from a nongovernment statewide organization representing victims who is appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety;
- Three restorative justice practitioners appointed by the State Court Administrator
A representative of the Colorado Juvenile Parole Board appointed by the Chair of the Juvenile Parole Board2013
HB15-1094 was passed increasing the possibilities for the RJ Cash fund to grow through receipt of gifts, grants, donations and other revenue for trainings and events. Also, the bill broadened the scope of criminal cases that restorative justice can serve in Colorado, including municipal level cases that could fall under the C.R.S and cases that range from petty offenses to felony 3 offenses and other offenses at District Attorney’s discretion.
The bill also added additional RJ Council seats brining the total number of members to 19. The new seats included:
- A judicial representative from Judicial Branch appointed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Colorado
- A public defender representative from Office of the Colorado State Public Defender appointed by Colorado State Public Defender; and
- A Law Enforcement representative appointed by the State Court Administrator
The RJ Council extended the “pilot” study and added additional juvenile diversion providers, to increase needed data collection. Some school-site services were also included. During this period, the Council also sponsored short trainings on varied topics and in varied locations, with a goal of offering mini-training events on a quarterly basis. These trainings were hosted by the Council, with competitive contracts to RJ programs and trainers to deliver specified training topics. The Council additionally helped to convene a gathering of RJ providers and trainers serving schools, leading to the development and adoption of Guidelines for Restorative Practices in Schools in 2016. The Council also hosted a multi-day, statewide RJ Conference in Vail in 20162016 & 2017
As an outgrowth of strategic planning discussions, the RJ Council decided to move away from longer-cycle, staff-intensive program implementation grants. This shift was possible, in part, due to the annual step-down in funding built into the “pilot study” model. The RJ Council prioritized new funding decisions towards two other streams:
1)Its own strategic Education Initiatives and
2) 2 small external microgrants that could be implemented in one year or less and were specific to expanding capacity for delivering RJ around the state.
The move towards Council-identified Education Initiatives included a significant collaborative contract in 2018 to forward a project the Council had identified a year or two earlier as a key barrier to RJ implementation in Colorado’s courts: the lack of basic RJ awareness, training modules, and model documents and practices within and between DA’s and defense counsel around the state. Another smaller collaborative contract was also funded in 2018 to create and deliver a cross-sector training to advance understanding between Victim Advocates and RJ practitioners regarding RJ principles and practices. The RJ Council launched its first round of microgrants as well.2018
The RJ Council awarded a second round of “capacity-building” microgrants in 2019. The RJ Council additionally awarded funds to COVA late in 2019 to help maintain COVA’s capacity for HI-VOD work during a gap in their other funding streams. The RJ Council hosted two mini-conferences in Fall 2019 – a two-day conference related to RJ in schools and a second two-day conference related to RJ in juvenile diversion. These last two events reflect a growing emphasis on exploring ways in which the Council can leverage its mission by co-hosting strategic training or other convenings with and/or for key state-level players.2019