Community leaders remember man behind Dane County’s first restorative court

MADISON, Wis. — Community leaders gathered Monday evening to remember the man who was a catalyst for Dane County’s first restorative court.

Ronald J. Johnson died on October 29 at age 71. Local leaders, including Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, former Madison police chief Noble Wray and State Rep. Sheila Stubbs, attended a celebration of life remembering Johnson on Monday.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Ron Johnson builds a restorative justice model

One man who worked with Johnson said his restorative court program, which aimed to reduce racial disparities for young adults in the criminal justice system, is now a model for the rest of the country.

“We’re sad he’s not here anymore, and he had a great life and made a major impact on the Milwaukee, Madison and Dane County communities,” Ron Chance, the programs manager for Dane County Human Services, said.

Before moving to Madison, Johnson worked on programs responding to gang violence in Milwaukee for more than two decades.

Johnson was a one-time member of the Blackstone Rangers and the Black Panther Party and a former teacher and principal.