Dane County
Community Restorative Courts


Victim Based, Offender Focused and Community Driven


The victim is an integral part of the community restorative court process.  Very shortly after the crime, the identified victim will be contacted by the CRC coordinator.  They will be provided with an explanation of the CRC, which will include the purpose and process.  The victim will be asked if they would like to participate in a victim-offender conference with two mediators.  This is a completely voluntary process—the victim may decline to participate at any point in the process. 

The victim may also choose to have the offender participate in the court without them.  In this case, a Repairing Harm circle, made up of various members of the community as well as two facilitators, will act as a “surrogate” victim to explain the impact of the offender’s crime on the community. This Repairing Harm circle may also be used if it is a "victimless" crime.

If the victim declines to participate and objects to the offender participating in the Repairing Harm circle, the CRC may refer the offender to the District Attorney or may still pursure the repairing harm circle.  The District Attorney's office will have the final say if they want to charge the offender in the formal system or have the offender participate in the Repairing Harm circle if they are referred.  


An offender who wishes to participate in the CRC must take part in the full intake, assessment and preparation process.  The offender will first meet with the CRC coordinator for an intake meeting, at which the coordinator will explain the restorative court process in detail and determine whether the offender wishes to participate.  Second, the CRC coordinator will conduct an in-depth assessment of the offender.  Third, the offender will meet with CRC staff to prepare for the first restorative session. 

Restorative justice is a voluntary process.  The offender is never required to enter the CRC, though if they do participate, they are required to take responsibility for their actions.  If they do not take responsibility for their actions, their case is sent through the formal criminal justice process.  Restorative justice is most effective for participants who are ready to mend the relationships that were harmed in the offending incident. Once accepted into the process, the offender has a responsibility to remain in the CRC until resolution.

An offender that choses to leave the restorative court process early may be refused future entry to the program.  In addition, their case will likely be sent to the formal criminal justice system.  Offenders will be expected to take an active role in creating the restorative process that will best repair the harm that was done to the victim and will assist the offender to become a responsible member of the community.  It is the hope of the CRC that offenders who complete the process will become active participants in future operations of the Dane County CRC. 

Community Involvement

The South side of Madison is a community of strength.  Involving members of the community in the operations of the CRC is an integral part of running a successful community court.  Members of the community are equal partners to Dane County, the Madison Police Department, the District Attorney, and other government agencies and service organizations in strengthening the community and addressing concerns of citizens.  


  1. Advisory Board:  Made up of a diverse group of stakeholders, this advisory board will advise the CRC on operating procedures and address

  2. Community Meetings:  Community meetings will be held on a regular basis and are open to all members of the public.  The meetings will serve two purposes: to be a forum for members of the community to share concerns and areas for improvement with operations of the CRC, and to give the community an opportunity to hear updates on operations, concerns, and updates from CRC staff. 

  3. Open Door Policy:  Members of the community should feel comfortable contacting the CRC through phone, email, or visiting the office at Centro Hispano during all operating hours. 

  4. CRC Service Partners: Community organizations partner with the CRC to provide both onsite and offsite services.