The City of Longmont is taking a unique approach to punishing some of its criminals.
Since 1994 the city has been on the forefront of restorative justice in the United States. Instead of punishing misdemeanor offenders with court or jail, they choose some to go through a program of owning up to their actions.
They’ve recently expanded the program to theft suspects.
“Are you willing to say I did this; I harmed other people; and I want to make things right,” said Longmont Community Justice Partnership executive director Kathleen McGoey. “Responsibility doesn't have to look like remorse.”
The program takes criminals, and works with them to take responsibility for their actions. Many of them are referred to the program by police who believe they deserve a second a chance.
“Really it's only it's a small majority of our population that are bad guys,” said Officer James Brown with the LPD.
The young adults will meet with a facilitator who broaches them about the program. They answer questions, concerns, and prepare them to face the businesses they’ve stolen from.
“We're focusing on moving out of that identification as I'm a thief I'm a bad person and moving more towards what are you going to do with your future how are you going to get there,” McGoey said.
The offender meets with a police officer, their parent, and the victim to discuss their reasoning for committing the crime while listening to the others’ points of view.
“The first goal is to ensure that the victim has their needs met; they have a voice and they're not going to experience anymore victimization,” McGoey said.
“When you hear people sharing what it was like for them you can't help but be moved,” said program facilitator Linda Leary.
Police reporters are still processed, but if the offender completes the program fully they are given a clean record.
“They just don't reoffend they just don't,” Leary said.
The LCJP says after the program finishes 90 percent of victims feel the offender has made up for their crime.