SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California officials are experimenting with a new diversion program for criminals that includes having victims directly confront their offenders.
The budget that took effect July 1 includes $5 million to fund the program in San Joaquin County for five years. It's been tried elsewhere and is more frequently used with juvenile offenders.
The California program is for offenders of any age. It will pair victims and offenders before they are convicted, and offenders who complete the program can avoid having a criminal record.
Proponents said Monday that such restorative justice programs can help survivors heal, while helping offenders avoid committing new crimes in part because they don't face the stigma of a criminal conviction.
Victims can demand restitution for expenses like medical bills or time lost from work.