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Assemblymember McKinnor Introduces Bill to Protect Integrity of Restorative Justice Processes

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA)—Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D - Inglewood), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Restorative Justice, today announced the introduction of AB 2833, the Restorative Justice Integrity Act, which will safeguard the integrity of Restorative Justice Processes statewide. With the support of the California Restorative Justice Policy Coalition (CRJPC), this legislation seeks to address critical gaps in the current legal framework by providing comprehensive admissibility protections for people who participate in these Restorative Justice processes.

Restorative Justice programs are effective tools for addressing conflict and harm within communities, an impact recognized just last month in the results of a randomized control trial of San Francisco's Make It Right program featured in peer-reviewed Econometrica.1 However, as noted in a recent R Street Institute policy paper2, the ability for participants to speak freely without fear of repercussion is essential for the success of these processes. Currently, the absence of clear legal protections leaves individuals hesitant to engage fully in Restorative Justice, undermining its potential for healing and restoration.

McKinnor's bill aims to remedy this situation by establishing comprehensive protections for all Restorative Justice processes in California to ensure that information shared in Restorative Justice Processes is inadmissible in future legal proceedings.

Drawing inspiration from successful models in fifteen other states, including Illinois' SB 64, this legislation represents a significant step forward in advancing Restorative Justice processes statewide and preserving their effectiveness. By providing clear legal safeguards, it aims to reduce recidivism rates and promote community safety by enabling California crime survivors to fully share the impact of the harm they have sustained and to experience an honest accounting of why that harm occurred.

"This bill represents a crucial step towards ensuring that Restorative Justice processes can operate effectively in California," said Assemblymember Tina McKinnor. "By protecting the communications of participants, we can create an environment where individuals feel safe to engage fully in the healing and accountability process."

"Studies show that Restorative Justice processes significantly reduce recidivism, achieve survivor satisfaction, and lower public costs," said Abby Bordin, Restorative Justice facilitator at Community Works, one of the bill's cosponsors. "We've been able to temporarily negotiate protections but, without comprehensive statewide protections, our program couldn't operate and have the same impact."

"As California moves away from mass incarceration and invests in community-based solutions to addressing harm, we must foster a society where healing is essential to justice. Protecting restorative justice sessions under the law demonstrates a commitment to do that," said Antoinette Ratcliffe, Executive Director of Initiate Justice. "These legal safeguards will ensure the integrity of restorative justice sessions. This isn't just about protecting people. It is about nurturing a culture of healing and accountability where these journeys to reconciliation are respected; allowing California to remain a leader in transforming the criminal legal system."

AB 2833 is co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, Californians for Safety and Justice, Community Works, Initiate Justice, and the RYSE Center, all members of the California Restorative Justice Policy Coalition. The broader coalition is composed of fifteen organizations dedicated to advancing restorative justice principles, and the California Restorative Justice Policy Coalition believes that this bill will play a significant role in expanding access to, and preserving the integrity of, Restorative Justice processes across the state. AB 2833 will be considered by the California State Assembly later this Spring.