When I first began my term as Senator and Judiciary Committee Chairman I was hit with a flurry of meetings and policy sales pitches. Needless to say, most of the conversations I had were about the justice system. Various topics came up from these discussions, the biggest of which I've talked about here before: juvenile justice reform, dating violence protections, heroin legislation, and felony expungement.
One of the topics that came up back in 2013 was the idea of "restorative justice," a concept I hadn't heard of before. Restorative justice is a way of disposing criminal cases, particularly juvenile cases, that aims to make the victim whole and to build character and value in the defendant. Instead of simply locking a criminal up, without directly (personally) taking responsibility for their behavior and with limited exposure to the people they victimized, restorative justice (with the consent of the victim) seeks to involve the victim in the disposition of the case and help rebuild the community relationship where the defendant's criminal conduct has torn it down.
I included bill language referring to restorative justice in 2014's SB200 as a first step toward its statewide implementation, and I hope we can continue to encourage Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys across the state to help put it use from Paducah to Pikeville.
Restorative Justice Louisville, with grant funding, put together a very show video explaining how much of a difference it can make, and I highly recommend you take a couple minutes to watch it: