Dane County’s community restorative courts are joining a national effort to improve the criminal justice system.
The county is one of 20 counties and cities to receive grants to improve criminal justice reforms. A $50,000 donation from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArther Foundation will provide an expansion to the county’s current program.
The purpose of the grant is to enable communities to design and test innovative local justice reforms designed to reduce jail usage and racial disparities in the judicial system.
The Community Restorative Court is in south Madison. The program started two years ago as a pilot program for the city.
Grant funding will allow the program to expand throughout all of Dane County. Funding received will support the program in providing technical assistance in design and training and to implement local reforms.
“The Community Restorative Court is a great example of what can be accomplished when community partners work together,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, in a statement.
The program brings people ages 17-25 who’ve committed a misdemeanor crime face-to-face with their victims in a circle discussion to determine restitution without facing formal charges. The CRC also helps the offender with issues related to employment, healthy relationships and other basic needs to prevent reoffending.