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Dane County Department of Human Services

The Dane County Restorative Court (CRC)

Repair Harm, Reduce Risk, Rebuild Community

818 Badger Road, Madison, WI 53713
Office: (608) 283-1690

What is the “Circle” Process and the Guiding Principles of the CRC?

Circle Process:

A respondent is offered the opportunity to participate in the CRC if eligible and referred by a criminal justice partner.  The respondent has to accept responsibility for their actions and be willing to participate in the restorative justice process.   CRC staff are not officers of the law, but rather  facilitators of a Restorative Justice process.

CRC staff meet with both Victim and Respondent separately to discuss the incident. The Respondent, Victim and Peacemakers (trained volunteers from the community) meet in the circle process to create an agreement outlining the steps the Respondent will take to repair harm.

CRC Guiding Principles:

 Victim -Centered, Respondent- Focused and Community- Driven

 Victim-Centered

 The Victim is an integral part of the CRC process.  The identified Victim is contacted by CRC staff who shares information about the CRC, including its purpose and procedures.  Victims are offered the opportunity to participate in several ways including attending the restorative justice circle, writing an impact statement to be read at the circle, recommending 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.

Respondent-Focused

 The person referred to the program by the District Attorney’s Office or law enforcement agency is called the Respondent. They are the person who takes responsibility for the harm. Participation in the CRC program is voluntary.  Respondents who choose to participate will attend an intake appointment with CRC staff. At this meeting, a brief social history assessment is completed. CRC staff use this time to explain the restorative court process in detail, learn about the Respondent’s needs and prepare them for their circle.

Participants are required to take responsibility for their actions. Respondents who do not take responsibility 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. This agreement outlines the steps a Respondent will take to repair damages to the Victim and the community. The process is designed to allow the individual to reflect on their actions, and to contemplate how they can rebuild community including participating in the future activities of the CRC by becoming a Peacemaker.

 Community-Driven

 Dane County is a diverse community of strength.  Involving community members as peacemakers and volunteers in the operations of the CRC is an integral part of running a successful community court. It makes the CRC model unique nationally.  Members of the community are considered equal partners to Dane County, the District Attorney, local law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders.  Through peacemaker involvement community concerns are addressed and real “community justice” is realized.

The CRC involves community in several ways:

Peacemakers: These are 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 throughout our process.

Advisory Board:  Made up of a diverse group of stakeholders, this board advises the CRC on its strategic direction and operations.

CRC Service Partners: CRC has developed strong partnerships with many community organizations to provide both onsite and offsite services to Victims and Respondents.

Is Restorative Justice Effective?

Studies indicate restorative justice processes in comparison to the traditional criminal justice system:

  • Resolve cases more quickly;
  • Result in a higher percentage of offenders making full restitution payments;
  • Generate greater satisfaction and feelings of fairness on the part of both victims and offenders with regard to the handling and outcomes of a case;
  • Reduce recidivism; and
  • Demonstrate significant cost  per case savings. *

As of 2020, CRC has a 92% success rate of respondents that have signed a Repair Harm Agreement!  Success is defined as completion of their repair harm agreement.  A future study to evaluate the recidivism of CRC Respondents is planned for the near future.

*Evidence-based Research Analysis on the Effectiveness of Restorative Justice, Jonathan Scharrer, Director, Restorative Justice Project, University of Wisconsin Law School

CRC in the News

Madison 365, August 2020

     https://madison365.com/in-her-new-book-lakesha-collins-shows-you-how-you-can-persevere-against-all-odds/

The Herald Independent, October 2018

     https://www.hngnews.com/monona_cottage_grove/article_2168bbf8-885e-56ee-8497-a70356fe17f7.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

Sun Prairie Star, June 2018

     http://www.hngnews.com/sun_prairie_star/news/article_25aa4975-7fdb-5876-abb5-bbf1b0a30f54.html?mode=story

Madison Magazine, December 2017

     https://www.channel3000.com/investing-in-restorative-justice/

Madison Magazine, December 2017

     https://www.channel3000.com/ron-johnson-builds-a-restorative-justice-model/

Isthmus, December 2014

     Wisconsin's Incarceration Addiction

Madison Times, October 2014

     Dane County Officials Announce New Community Court

Dane County Press Release, October 2014

     County Officials Announce Community Court

Dane County Press Release, May 2014

     County Board Unanimous on Equity Initiative

Isthmus, May 2014

     South Madison to Host New Dane County Community Court

The Cap Times, April 2014

     Dane County Looks to Tackle Racial Disparities at all Levels

Wisconsin State Journal, April 2014

     Q  & A: Shelia Stubbs is Done Talking About Racial Inequality in Dane County

Dane County Press Release, November 2013

     County Takes Racial Disparity Head On: Budget Items Take Aim at the "Great Embarrassment " of Racial Disparities

Wisconsin State Journal, October 2013

     Race Bias in Dane County Legal System to be Fought in Special Courts

What is Restorative Justice?

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is an approach that focuses on the needs of the Victims, offenders (called Respondents) , and the affected community. Victims can actively participate in the process, while Respondents acknowledge responsibility for their actions.  The goals of restorative justice are to repair harm, reduce the risk of re-offense and rebuild community.

The CRC is modeled after processes that have been used by Native American tribes and other cultures for generations. 

“Circle Justice” involves residents, Victims, and Respondents working together to find resolution and repair harm done to communities by crime.

What is the CRC?

The CRC is an innovative way to expedite misdemeanor cases and municipal violations to provide an alternative to the traditional justice system.  This approach holds Respondents (offenders) responsible, often with community service and restitution.  It also provides human services support when appropriate. Victims are given a voice and community participation is essential.  Respondents do not have a Circuit Court Automated Program (CCAP) entry and receive no formal charge if they complete their repair harm agreement successfully. This collaborative approach to community justice was launched in south Madison in the Spring of 2015 after years of research and extensive engagement with the community under the leadership of Dane County’s Subcommittee on Racial Disparities.

Who is the focus of CRC?

The CRC is designed for young people 17-25 years old who have committed a misdemeanor crime or a municipal violation within the geographic boundaries of Dane County.  Eligible misdemeanors include:

  • Simple battery
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Obstructing an Officer
  • Theft
  • Criminal Damage to Property

Occasionally the CRC will get referrals from the District Attorney’s office that involve charges outside of this group including hate or racially-oriented crimes.

How is the CRC staffed?  Who partners with the CRC?

 The CRC has a staff of five comprised of a Coordinator, a Senior Social Worker and three Program Leaders.  The CRC partners with a variety of agencies including:

  • Dane County Department of Human Services
  • Dane County District Attorney’s Office
  • Dane County Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Madison Police Department
  • Law Enforcement Agencies throughout Dane County
  • UW Madison Law School Restorative Justice Project
  • Dane County Subcommittee on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System
  • Center for Court Innovation, New York City

CRC has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing procedures between our agency, the Dane County District Attorney’s Office and local Law Enforcement Agencies. Below is a link to this MOU.

See Attached CRC MOU PDF

How do I become a Peacemaker?

How do I become a Peacemaker?

The CRC is a pre-charge diversion program working to provide an alternative, restorative-based approach to expedite certain municipal and misdemeanor cases in Dane County.  This approach holds Respondents responsible by meeting with their Victim in a “circle.” Victims are given an opportunity to be involved with the restorative justice process and voice their emotions, experience and needs. CRC is voluntary for everyone involved including respondents, victims and peacemakers.  Peacemakers, who are volunteers participate in the restorative justice circle process. Peacemakers represent our community and are a critical part of repairing the harm. The circle supports Victims and Respondents to create a Repair Harm Agreement (contract) with the Respondent which may include community service, restitution, counseling and a variety of services to assist the needs of Respondents and Victims. Respondents are not formally charged and do not have a charge or violation entered on the  CCAP database if they successfully complete the agreement. Studies have shown that a restorative justice approach can resolve cases more quickly, reduce recidivism and generate more satisfaction and feelings of fairness on the part of Victims, Respondents and, most importantly, the community at large.

Community involvement is a primary component of the CRC.  Peacemakers participate in four trainings over a two week span.  Peacemakers learn about the Restorative Justice process and how they can contribute to their community and the young people we serve. This is also an opportunity to support the victims of crime to help repair harm. Once trained, Peacemakers participate in circles that last 60 to 90 minutes. The circle schedule is flexible and depends on your availability.

CRC Peacemaker Frequently Asked Questions:

 1)    Where do the “circles” take place? 

 Currently, circles are virtual utilizing a Zoom platform due to the pandemic.  In normal times, circles are most often held at the CRC Office (818 W. Badger Road, Madison, WI).  Other circles can be held throughout Dane County depending  on the needs of the Victim or Respondent.

2)    What is a typical time commitment for Peacemakers?

A Peacemaker’s availability and the number of referrals CRC receives are the two primary factors.  We schedule a circle according to the Respondent and Victim’s schedule, then we reach out to Peacemakers to see if they are available. If a Peacemaker is not available, we will continue to solicit their participation. We may ask for a Peacemaker’s participation once every 1 to 2 months or more. If our referrals are lower, then it may be every 3 to 4 months. The more cases referred, the more circles are scheduled. A circle generally lasts 60 to 120 minutes with the average being 60 minutes. This depends on the dynamics of the case.

3)    Would a Peacemaker be a part of a team at a circle, or by themselves?

 Peacemakers are part of a team. CRC staff facilitate the circle; there are typically 2 to 3 Peacemakers present.

4)     Is this only for Dane County, or would a Peacemaker from other counties be called upon?

Dane County only.

5)     If I'm called upon, and have an existing obligation, how would that be handled?

 Let CRC staff know you are unavailable. We make circle requests by email, text and phone. We will continue to keep you on the Peacemaker rotation and request your participation in Circles. We realize community members have many other obligations.

6)    If I am accepted for participation in a circle and have a last-minute urgent concern requiring my presence, how would that be handled?

 Please let CRC staff know as soon as possible through email, text or phone. We have multiple peacemakers scheduled for each circle and will most likely be able to move forward.

7)    Do I need to participate in all 4 sessions of Peacemaker Training?

Yes.

8)    What if I know the Victim or Respondent?

 Tell staff as soon as you realize this and staff will provide guidance.

 9)    Is there a dress code?

 There is not a specific dress code.  We expect Peacemakers to dress appropriately for the setting. You should wear nothing that could be offensive or disrespectful to others.

10)            What if I don’t agree with the Repair Harm Agreement?

During the circle process, repair harm conditions are discussed by each person and everyone has a voice in the process. If you are not in agreement, please provide your reason why and what you would like to offer for the repair harm agreement. Often times, there may be several rounds of discussion about the repair harm agreement until the most beneficial agreement is reached. This is a collective, interactive process.

Contact Stephanie Marino, Senior Social Worker, to sign up for the training.

 Marino@countyofdane.com 

Below is the Peacemaker Information Form to make a request to attend  a training.

See attached Peacemaker Information Form PDF 

CRC Office and Staff Contacts

Office Location:

Community Restorative Court

 818 W Badger Road

 Madison WI  53713

Office: (608)283-1690

 

Community Restorative Court Staff

Stephanie Marino, Senior Social Worker

Office: (608) 283-1683

Cell: (608) 422-3424

marino@countyofdane.com

 

Donnetta Foxx, Program Leader

Office: (608) 283-1686

Cell: (608) 286-8456

foxx.donnetta@countyofdane.com

 

Jackie Hammond, Program Leader

Office: (608) 283-1685

Cell: (608) 977-4519

hammond.jackie@countyofdane.com

 

Teresa Tellez-Giron, Program Leader

Office: (608) 283-1687

Cell: (608) 446-4603

dary@countyofdane.com

 

Kim Carter, Program Leader

Cell: (608) 556-4587

carter.kim@countyofdane.com

Education and Research Materials

Watch this video for more information on Mass Incarceration in the United States

Wisconsin Restorative Justice Coalition: https://restorativejusticeontherise.org/resources/wisconsin-restorative-justice-coalition/

University of Wisconsin Law School: http://www.law.wisc.edu/fjr/rjp/

Court Innovationhttp://www.courtinnovation.org/

Restorative Justicehttp://www.restorativejustice.org/