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King County Council Unanimously Approves Restorative Justice Plan

On Tuesday, November 17th, the King County Council voted to approve an alternative to the criminal justice system, something that reform advocates see as a victory. The council will hand authority over to community groups which will decide the restitution, instead of a judge, for first-time non-violent offenders. The program is known as Community Restorative Pathways.

The community groups would not be able to assign jail time or a conviction. The proponents argue that this will provide a real pathway back into society for people who accidentally get swept into the system. The program begins with a budget of $6.2M which the county hopes to make up for with closing prisons and jails. In a press release from the County Executive, the following was stated:

Restorative Community Pathways also includes appropriate services and support for harmed parties, and restitution so that youths who cannot pay fines and other financial obligations do not end up in a cycle of probation violations and incarceration. Most of the impacted youth are low-income people of color, and this novel program was conceptualized and developed by community organizations who serve those youth. 

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