New community court will reduce disparities and build trust

Independents week celebrates locally owned, operated businesses

   The newly operational Community Restorative Court on Madison’s South Side is one of the most significant changes in corrections policy this community has seen. The collaborative effort of city police, Dane County Human Services, and others is based on restorative justice principles that hold offenders, in this case young, first offenders, accountable with an emphasis on making victims whole and giving offenders an opportunity to repair damage done and avoid a permanent, life-scaring record. We think this program is terrific.

    First of all it is a direct response to racial disparities in our criminal justice system. But more importantly, it gives law enforcement officials an alternative to arrest and can, and we hope will, fundamentally change the relationship between cops and some neighborhoods. Bad stuff will be dealt with seriously. But folks can now trust that not so bad stuff will be dealt with differently. More justly. We can’t wait to see this effort work, and expand.