California Assemblymember introduces bill to protect integrity of restorative justice processes

Layne Mullett
Director of Media Relations


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SACRAMENTO, CA (February 16, 2024) Yesterday, the Restorative Justice Integrity Act (AB 2833) – a bill that will safeguard the integrity of Restorative Justice processes across California – was introduced in the California State Assembly. 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 state-approved Restorative Justice processes. The bill was introduced by Assemblymember McKinnor, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Restorative Justice.

“As we shift our responses to harm to a more restorative method, it is key to ensure people can engage fully and honestly in the Restorative Justice process,” said Fatimeh Khan, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Healing Justice program in California. “Our state does not yet offer comprehensive protections for the integrity of existing Restorative Justice processes but with this bill, we aim to do just that.”

Restorative Justice programs are effective tools for addressing conflict and harm within communities. This was illustrated just last month in the results of a randomized control trial of San Francisco’s Make It Right program, featured in the peer-reviewed journal Econometrica. However, as noted in a recent R Street Institute policy paper, 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.

“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.”

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.

"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."

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.

"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.


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. Learn more at