This year Colorado has passed yet another law to advance the use of restorative justice across the state. With this law Colorado State House Representative Pete Lee and State Senator Linda Newell continue to build upon past legislative victories. They enjoy the support of many grassroots efforts as well as the work of a wide range of schools, police, probation and prison workers, and community groups across the state.Restorative Justice Colorado, which was established by state legislative action back in 2008 to coordinate restorative justice efforts throughout the state, explains the new law on its blog:
This new law will initiate an RJ fund via a $10 surcharge on offender fees. These dollars will help seed new pilot projects and develop research and evidence on the value of restorative justice. The money will also support a position for a state RJ Coordinator that supports the State RJ Council and RJ programs around the state.
Perhaps most importantly the new law will provide the opportunity to almost all juveniles referred to the justice system.
I think it's worth noting the quality of this concise and pure definition of restorative justice, which is included at the very beginning of the law:
Restorative justice practices means practices that emphasize repairing the harm caused to victims and the community by offenses. Restorative justice practices include victim-offender conferences, family group conferences, circles, community conferences, and other similar victim-centered practices. Restorative justice practices are facilitated meetings attended voluntarily by the victim or victim's representatives, the victim's supporters, the offender and the offender's supporters and may include community members. By engaging the parties to the offense in voluntary dialogue, restorative justice practices provide an opportunity for the offender to accept responsibility for the harm caused to the victim and community, promote victim healing, and enable the participants to agree on consequences to repair the harm, to the extent possible, including but not limited to apologies, community service, reparation, restoration, and counseling. Restorative justice practices may be used in addition to any other conditions, consequences, or sentence imposed by the court.
The law, which currently awaits the signature of the governor, can be read here.
To read more about Colorado's history with restorative justice, click here, where you will also find other links to older stories.
Additionally, last year Colorado passed a bill to end so-called zero tolerance policies in schools.
To read the article on iirp click here
Democrat Linda Newell was elected to the state Senate in 2008 out of a competitive district in Arapahoe County.
A single mom who worked in human resources and conflict resolution, there was little in Newell’s background to suggest she would become, as some of her statehouse colleagues call her, “the champion for the children.”
Newell last year was among the lawmakers who launched a children’s caucus in the legislature to focus specifically on early childhood and child protection issues.
The group reconvened last Monday with increased backing and with hopes of making a difference. Nearly one-quarter of the legislature’s 100 members — many Democrats but also several Republicans — were in attendance.
“I got to the legislature and what I realized is many lawmakers don’t want to talk about abuse and neglect,” Newell told me Thursday. “Some don’t want to engage. Others who want to, you start to get involved and you realize it’s such a complex system — especially with a state-monitored and county-delivered setup.
“Nobody was really taking up the charge, and that’s just when I fell into that area of policy.”
Issue caucuses are not unheard of under the gold dome. Prior years have seen groups that support sportsmen, transportation and even beer.
But over the next three months, an underrepresented constituency — one that can’t buy ads or hire lobbyists — will benefit from the work of the children’s caucus.
In the aftermath of the Denver Post /9News ” Failed to Death” series that found that 72 of the 175 children who died from abuse or neglect since 2007 were previously known to child welfare workers, Newell is among those taking up the charge to improve the system.
Since the series was published last fall, Newell said, a core group of stakeholders have been working hard to craft an appropriate legislative response.
“We’ve been getting together and working — with state officials, counties and different advocates — and we’re putting together a child protection agenda that will be a suite of bills that we roll out at the end of the month or the first week of February, “she said.
Two measures have already been introduced: Senate Bill 47, which aims to protect kids in foster care from identity theft; and Senate Bill 12, which adds youth sports coaches to the list of people required to report suspected child abuse to social services or law enforcement.
The group is also tracking more than a dozen other bills on issues that involve children.
Asked how she responded to cynics who think lawmakers embrace issues as being “for the children” when there are other motives in play, Newell said that’s not how voters see it when it comes to early childhood and abuse and neglect issues.
She said she knocked on more than 30,000 doors in her re-election bid and that residents were “really tuned in to children’s issues.” In an era of big-spending corporate and political interests, that’s a refreshing sign.
The children’s caucus this year is getting a small boost from the Tennyson Center, a treatment center for “emotionally and crisis-affected children and youth.”
The center is helping the caucus with its website and, perhaps most important, with lunches for lawmakers who attend the semi-weekly caucus meetings.
That may seem like a small step — but a working lunch is a great way to see that work gets done.
For her part, Newell hopes to see the caucus pick up steam and additional members, particularly given that nearly a third of lawmakers in the Capitol this year are newly elected.
“We’re hoping that we’re getting legislators from all across the state and both sides of the aisle,” she said.
E-mail Curtis Hubbard at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @curtishubbard
To read the article on the Denver Post's website, click here
Finally had my last day at the Capitol today, and I only cried twice. That’s pretty good for me, considering I’ve been known to cry at baby commercials. Now I’m pretty sure you’re not crying I’m leaving, and maybe you even cried when I got into office. But I can positively say it’s been a privilege and honor to represent you for the last eight years in the state Senate.
I wanted to give my thanks to those of you who voted for me, volunteered, or donated to my campaigns. Thank you for believing in me in 2008 when no one had heard of me, and in 2012, when you received too many alluring (and deplorable) campaign pieces in your mailbox. And all the years in between calling or emailing your concerns or visiting me at the Capitol or my local town halls.
And also thanks to those who never voted for me, but let me know what your concerns were and how I might be able to help.
Together, we were able to accomplish a lot. Just getting elected in this district is a feat for anyone, yet possible when we come together as a community. Governing (in my book) is also a joint process, and I’m lucky to have had the best constituency in Colorado. We may not always agree, but at least we can talk and brainstorm together, peacefully. Because of that, I’m proud to say that of almost 140 bills I sponsored, 97 percent of them had bipartisan support. And the majority of them passed! Not all districts want that “purple” collaboration, but I believe we’re better because of it.
So, what’s next?
Well, some have asked me to run for higher office, some think I should go back into the private sector and actually make a reasonable living again. But for now, I’m really enjoying finishing my documentary I filmed last session about an insider’s view of the state Legislature in Colorado — what the process is like from the inside and what it’s like just being a senator.
Two things I know I’m called to do for now: educating people about what government is really like, and telling people’s stories. Over the years walking door-to-door, it became very clear that most people just don’t know what we do in the Legislature or how we do it. Not their fault, they just haven’t been exposed to it. So I’d like to help with that, from the inside.
And there’s no better way to do that than sharing people’s stories. We live in our own bubble so much nowadays that we hardly know what our co-worker or next-door neighbor is really like. Can you imagine how much better we could get along with a bit of insight into others’ lives?
So for now, I might be done in the state Senate, but I’m not done yet, as they say. You might even see more of me, who knows?
Very grateful to have served you …
Linda Newell is now termed out as the state senator of Senate District 26: Columbine Valley, Bow Mar, Littleton, Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, west Centennial and parts of Aurora. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or senlindanewell.com.
To read this article on the Littleton Independent click here
Here we are again - trying to understand and cope with another large-scale tragedy of violence, this time from the sunny city of Orlando, where there's not only one "Happiest Place on Earth," but several. So, how are you today?
Many people go to the papers or TV news to seek every detail they can find to make sense of the motive of the perpetrator or logistics of the event. How could this happen? How did he get a firearm in there? Why did he choose that place and those people? Others go online to their Facebook or Twitter accounts scouting for the best post to share seeking connection with family or friends. What do other people think? What are the theories, assumptions, or hypotheses? What do the church, political, or community leaders think?
Of course, this is common- going outside ourselves to seek understanding and meaning of it all. But in either process, we might be falling into the trap of mass "groupthink" (arriving at irrational decisions in the desire for belonging or conformity within a group of people). Is it possible we're just buying into what the media commentators are opining or our political party leaders are theorizing in order to belong to some family of "like mind?" Do we really think that a guy is radicalized with one group when he pledges allegiance to several? Or do we believe that because people "in our group" said so? Could it have been something people don't want to talk about? Maybe the motive was a latent homosexuality he felt was frowned upon by society, family or friends.Or...?
What about our own theories or our feelings? It makes sense that our brains want to figure this out, and it's a great distraction for us until we get hit suddenly with an overwhelming feeling of sadness, anger, or depression, and don't know why. Why am I taking this so hard? I didn't know any of the victims, I'm not gay or Latina, or have ties to Florida. This doesn't make sense. Yet as in "systems theory," where everything is connected to everything else and nothing occurs without a reaction, we are all humans living together on this planet, making us all connected on some level whether we know it, believe it, or not.
So as science tells us, of course we would feel the pain or anger of those strangers across the country. Some of us feel more intensely perhaps, but nevertheless, whether it's conscious or subconscious, it's happening.
For our Colorado community that well remembers, "We are Columbine," "We are Aurora Strong," or "#PrayforClaire," this can be a trigger of reliving that pain all over again. Whether directly affected or from the secondary trauma of being a first responder or volunteer with any of those horrific events, it becomes imperative to be a little selfish. As the triggers reappear, remember to be gentle with yourself, take me-time for processing, healing, journaling, sharing with friends, or revisiting your counselor. Think for yourself, feel for yourself.
This column is written by Senator Linda Newell and appears in the Littleton Independent
You may have heard about the 2016 State Legislative session - what got done, what didn't, or if people even cared. So from the inside, here's what I can tell you.
At least we're not Congress! Although we had our share of partisan obstacle courses, hold-ups and dead ends, I'm proud to say there were some successful pieces of legislation that will directly improve Coloradans' lives. And at the state level, we're required to arrive at a balanced budget, which we did, although not perfectly.
Rather than covering what you might have read already, I thought you might prefer to know a bit of what I got through (and didn't).
My bills that passed with bipartisan support:
My bill with Rep. Daniel Kagan, creating penalties for a person intentionally falsely claiming that a pet is a service animal in order to gain disability access or services, passed the House 65-0 only to be killed in Senate committee on a party-line vote. But bipartisan sponsors on another assistance animal bill amended our bill onto theirs and it passed again in the House 65-0. Without our names on it, it passed in the Senate and is ready for the governor's signature. (In essence, I'll sure miss the policy, but not the politics.)
For more detail on any of my bills, you can go to senlindanewell.com or email me.
This article was written by Senator Linda Newell and originally was published in the Littleton Independent
DENVER — The Colorado Senate delayed voting on a bill Thursday that would allow Coloradans a choice in what pharmacies they want to use.The delay came primarily from Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, who said he generally likes the idea, but wants to see if there’s a way to alter the bill so it doesn’t have government getting too involved in private contracts.As a result, the Senate Finance Committee delayed it until at least today. Sens. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, and Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, the Senate sponsors of the HB1361, are trying to persuade senators in the committee that the bill wouldn’t interfere with contracts between insurance companies and patients, and that the idea wouldn’t lead to higher costs for either. Read more on the Daily Sentinel Website.
After our spirited debate on the floor and compromises in conference committee, the General Assembly finally passed a 2016-17 budget. As you can imagine, it isn’t perfect, and there are flaws, but at least we’re balanced.
In a year when we started facing a major deficit and overall budget crisis, our Joint Budget Committee members worked very hard to get a budget that slightly increases per-pupil spending in K-12 education, which actually only holds the “negative factor” flat. That means we’re still lower in per-pupil education funding than many other states, but at least we were able to hold the line and not cut any more.
We were also able to prevent more cuts to higher education. That said, we weren’t able to give any as well, so we’re hearing the colleges and universities are planning on more tuition increases next year and beyond. Until we’re allowed to use more of the revenue we’re receiving, students (and parents) will continue to see tuition rates rise.
Also in the budget, are dollars to fund some transportation projects to fix the roads. However, each year, Colorado is approximately $1 billion dollars short of being able to cover adequate transportation needs. Yes, that’s with a B. And yes, we’ll continue to be driving through the obstacle courses of potholes, and paying for our popped tires or banged undercarriages, until we have a better long-term fix to transportation funding.
The good news — some helpful amendments were accepted, including:
• $500,000 to help rural Colorado recruit and retain teachers (a dying breed out there).
• $500,000 to the Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund to ensure people who suffer head trauma can receive the care they need to recover, no matter the situation.
• And my own amendment to get $100,000 to some of our suicide prevention projects that have been started, but not fully implemented due to lack of funding, like our award-winning Man Therapy program. Check it out at ManTherapy.org.
The bad news — some problems we couldn’t fix:
• $73 million cut from our hospitals, putting the status of rural hospitals and citizens on alert and at risk.
• $52 million cut from transportation that would have gone toward fixing our roads.
• $340,000 cut from the Air Pollution Control Division, just as we’re discovering we’ve got some of the worst air quality problems in the country.
So, you can see, we definitely ended up with a mixed bag this year, and long-term, Colorado still needs to find out how to get access to the funds we’re receiving and not allowed by the constitution to use. And although a short-term fix, we truly need to resolve the Hospital Provider Fee issue you’ve been hearing about, and pass House Bill 1420.
With less than three weeks of session left, we can do it easily. If we can get it through Senate leadership.
You’re welcome to join me down at the Capitol to see the happenings for yourself. Just email me and we’ll arrange it for you.
This article was written by Senator Newell and originally appeared in the Littleton Independent
DENVER – State lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a measure that aims at making it easier for smaller farmers and producers to sell homemade foods to consumers. The legislation follows in the footsteps of the Cottage Foods Act, which allows producers to directly sell to consumers without certain licensing requirements. The measure this year, Senate Bill 58, would expand on and streamline the law. Read more in The Durango Herald
Shortly before the gavel sounded in the newly refurbished Senate chamber, Linda Newell's eyes unexpectedly welled with tears.
"It's hard to leave something that I love so much," she said of the past eight years as a state senator representing District 26, which includes Littleton, Englewood, Columbine Valley, Bow Mar and a portion of Centennial. "It's become a passion for me, not just a job."
Read more on Castle Rock News Press Website