Dane County
Community Restorative Courts

REPAIR HARM REDUCE RISK REBUILD COMMUNITY

Victim Based, Offender Focused and Community Driven

Victim

The victim is an integral part of the community restorative court process.  The identified victim will be contacted by CRC staff who will share an explanation of the CRC, including the purpose and process.  Victims are offered the ability to participate in CRC at their comfort level by participating in the Restorative Justice  Circle, writing an impact statement to be read at the circle, requesting specific steps to repair harm, and requesting restitution for established damages. This process is voluntary for the victim, who may also decline to participate at any point once beginning the process. 

Respondent

The person referred to the program by the District Attorney’s Office or law enforcement agency is the respondent- they are the person who takes responsibility for the harm. Participation in the CRC program is voluntary.  Respondents who choose to participate first attend an intake appointment with one of our staff. At this meeting, a brief social history assessment is completed. CRC staff use this time to explain the restorative court process in detail and prepare the respondent for their circle. 

Participants are required to take responsibility for their actions. Respondents who do not take responsibility for their actions, or do not cooperate with the expectations of CRC, will have their case referred back to the District Attorney’s Office or appropriate municipal court for further court action. Restorative justice is only effective for participants who are ready to mend relationships and restore the harm caused to others and the community. 

Respondents are expected to take an active role in creating the repair harm agreement. These agreements outline the steps a respondent will take to repair damages to the victim and the community. The process is designed like this to allow the individual to reflect on their actions, and contemplate how they can restore 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 as Peacemakers.

Community Involvement

Dane County is a diverse community of strength.  Involving community members in the operations of 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.   

CRC involves community by

  1. Peacemakers: Community members who attend 16 hours of Restorative Justice training offered by CRC and facilitated by Jonathan Scharrer, Restorative Justice Director, Remington Center, UW Law School. These volunteers are the core of our program, representing the voice of community in our circles, and supporting victims and respondents through our process.
  2. Advisory Board:  Made up of a diverse group of stakeholders, this board will advise the CRC on operating procedures and address concerns
  3. CRC Service Partners: CRC has developed strong partnerships with many community organizations to provide both onsite and offsite services to victims and respondents.