Albany County DA Candidate Matt Toporowski Plans Victim Support through Restorative Justice Program

One of the alternatives to incarceration that has emerged in the criminal justice system is a restorative justice approach.

“Knowing that justice is not achieved merely putting a convicted person behind bars,” Matt Toporowski, the progressive Democratic candidate for Albany County District Attorney, announced plans this week to implement a Restorative Justice program that will empower survivors of crime and reduce recidivism rates.

“Victims of crime deserve more, and offenders can be held more directly accountable,” Matt Toporowski said. “This approach is proven to be more helpful to survivors of crime, to reduce recidivism and mass incarceration, and costs less than the current over-incarceration approach. Restorative Justice will be available to crime survivors who choose to engage in it.”

As his policy explains, “Restorative Justice is a proven practice that empowers victims (survivors of crime) to receive the direct accountability they deserve from those responsible for harming them.  Research has shown that Restorative Justice reduces recidivism rates (15-30%) and increases victim satisfaction (80-85%) in the process more effectively than simply punishing and imprisoning.

“This makes our communities as a whole safer and is much less costly than incarceration,” his site notes.

Restorative Justice can take many forms, but it is always up to the victim to decide whether and how to engage in it. Once a victim chooses Restorative Justice then preparation, with the help of experienced practitioners, occurs for both victim and offender. Surrogates, clinical care professionals, community and family members who have also been affected by the crime can also be involved in the process.

If the victim chooses a face-to-face meeting with the offender, an experienced practitioner facilitates a dialogue to ensure the victim is heard and the responsible party accounts for his or her actions.

The ultimate goal of Restorative Justice is to allow victims to identify and address their needs, seek accountability from those who have harmed them and achieve resolution that will foster reparation, reintegration and safer communities.

“I am committed to supporting victims beyond the trial or guilty plea. I plan to shift the necessary resources to establish an effective Restorative Justice program in Albany County,” Toporowski explained.

The program will include:

  • Violence intervention curriculum for offenders;
  • Professional support of clinical care workers on staff for victims;
  • Experienced Restorative Justice facilitators to ensure productive dialogue; and
  • Partnership with existing community-based violence intervention actors.

“Restorative Justice can take many forms, but it will always be up to the victim to decide how and whether to engage in it,” Toporowski said. “The program will include, but will not be limited to, a violence intervention curriculum for offenders to curb recidivism, professional support of clinical care workers for victims, and a partnership with existing community-based violence intervention actors. “

Matt Toporowski will appear on the “Restorative Justice International” podcast to further discuss his support for the plan.

You can also listen to him on the Everyday Injustice Podcast from last week.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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