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Defense Lawyers In Support of Restorative Justice (Wisconsin, U.S.)

We are glad to see the following article appear in the Wisconsin Law Journal written by Anthony Cotton, vice president of the       Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and board member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  Mr. Cotton talks about the need for restorative justice and its value to those most affected by crime: victims, offenders and community.
Restorative Justice International (RJI) would like to point out a  few things where we disagree with Mr. Cotton.  He says that in his      experience victims of crime are usually most interested in “compensation and retribution.”  We disagree strongly with this       statement. The victims we work with tell us they are most interested in offender accountability and seeing the offender makes things right with them. Restorative justice is so valuable because it does exactly these two things.  In addition, when restorative justice is applied particularly when a victim and offender meet the victim can finally ask questions of the offender that only he can answer. Often from those meetings come an agreement between the two parties which detail how the offender can take steps to make things right, and remain crime free in the future. Isn’t this exactly the outcome we hope to achieve in our justice system in the U.S.?
We are encouraged that defense attorneys like Mr. Cotton are learning about restorative justice. Our justice system(s) can only       benefit from all criminal justice players learning and understanding the importance of restorative justice. While some might think the application of restorative justice should be restrictive in that it should only be applied to certain  offenders and with certain victims. RJI says that there is great room to apply restorative justice broadly and with a wide variety of offenses–violent and nonviolent offenses and with juvenile and adult offenders.  We also believe that restorative justice must be utilized at various junctures after a crime is committed and throughout the victim’s journey throughout the justice system. The doors should be opened for victims to participate and not closed. As always RJI stresses the need to expand restorative justice in  ways that are victims-centered and victims-driven.
This is Lisa Rea for Restorative Justice International (RJI). (