In 2008, Pete Lee helped author a bill that set into statute a style of therapy for juvenile criminals and their victims that some people find radical. It’s called “restorative justice,” and it involves bringing offenders face-to-face with their victims.
Lee, a Democrat and now a newly elected state representative, said restorative justice drives home to an offender the consequences of his or her actions, and, in turn, can help relieve a victim’s anger and grief. This year, Lee wants to make restorative justice available to adult offenders.
Restorative justice can have incredible effects, said Lee, citing the case of Sandy Eversole.
In July 2009, Eversole was informed by police that her son, David, had been killed in a drunk driving accident. He had gotten into a friend’s car at a late-night party. The friend was driving more than 100 miles per hour on Garden of the Gods Road when he tried to make a right turn and clipped a median. The car spun out of control and rolled several times, Eversole said.
David was thrown from the car, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver suffered a black eye.
“We hated (him),” Eversole said. “We wanted him dead.”
Eversole and her family agreed to try a restorative justice session.
Eversole, her two sons, and her daughter-in-law confronted the driver, who said he hated himself for what he’d done.
By the end of the session, each of Eversole’s family members hugged him, and every one of them was in tears.
Lee said that restorative justice has been used by Manitou Springs for more than a decade. He said he thinks it could reduce recidivism and bring peace to everyone involved in a case.
Eversole, meanwhile, has become a fierce advocate for restorative justice. She’s spoken at law conferences, to attorneys and judges alike, and said she’ll testify at the Capitol as soon as Lee’s bill comes up in front of a committee.
Contact the writer 476-4825.