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Senator Eldridge (D-Acton), Representative Garballey (D-Arlington), and Erin Freeborn, Executive Director, Communities for Restorative Justice, at a  criminal justice forum on restorative justice.

BOSTON—Senator Eldridge (D-Acton) and Representative Garballey (D-Arlington) announced that the House version of the restorative justice legislation they filed received a favorable report from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. This bill would create an option for law enforcement and courts to refer juvenile and low-level adult responsible parties to a community-based restorative justice program in lieu of or alongside other responses.

“I am proud to work this session with Representative Garballey on a bill that would provide individuals and families with the ability to heal and move forward with their lives after experiencing traumatic events,” said Senator Eldridge. “This legislation would help individuals on both sides of the criminal justice system and help prevent crime while creating a safer and healthier society for everyone.”

“This legislation will provide a creative solution which allows low level offenders to directly repair the harm caused to those impacted by their crimes,” said Representative Sean Garballey.  “It will alleviate the pressure on our already over-crowded prison system and save money over time. Most importantly, it demonstrates to the nation our Commonwealth’s commitment to compassion in mitigating criminal behavior over harsher “by the book” punishments. I am pleased to have Senator Eldridge as my ally on this important legislation.”

“This bill will provide a meaningful tool for law enforcement to work with certain offenders who are willing to accept responsibility for their actions, accept consequences and repair the harm caused by their actions.  It will establish a program that offers community based support and will ultimately reduce recidivism by helping participants create a road map to a successful future,” said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. “I look forward to continuing to work with our legislative partners to advance this important legislation.”

“As law enforcement professionals, far too often we feel that, even as we close cases, that we are not repairing the actual damage that crime does to a community,” said Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno. “Restorative justice allows us to do something positive that repairs the breach. I applaud the efforts of Senator Eldridge and Representative Garballey in bringing this issue to the forefront.”

“The legislation will create a framework for restorative justice to be included as one of the many tools for police and stakeholders in the criminal justice system,” said Erin Freeborn, Executive Director at Communities for Restorative Justice. “This is an asset we can use to find effective responses to crime and harm in our communities.”

S71/ H1313 creates an option for law enforcement and courts to refer juvenile and low-level adult responsible parties to a community-based restorative justice program in lieu of or alongside other responses. The referral may be made pre-complaint, at the arrest, pre-arraignment, or sentencing phase and impacted parties and victims may also be part of the process.

Restorative justice practices may include voluntary meetings among victim, offender, supporters, and community members that provide an opportunity to meet victim needs, hold an offender accountable, explore the impact of the crime upon community, and agree upon a constructive plan of repair by consensus.

The bill also creates an advisory committee to study, track and make policy recommendations to aid in the implementation of restorative justice practices in the Commonwealth. An Office of Restorative Justice will also be established to provide support and assistance to community-based restorative justice programs in the Commonwealth.

The bill is now in House Ways & Means for consideration.


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