About Circles

At the core of Restorative Justice (RJ) is the emphasis on repairing the harm caused by a crime. In the RJ community we do this by bringing together victims, offenders and the community to talk about the harm and decide what, if anything, needs to be done for the victim or to the offender.

One of the ways we bring people together is through  Peacemaking Circle Process which is steeped in Native American and indigenous people practices throughout the world.  In essence a group of people sit in a circle and is guided by a trained circle keeper who creates a safe, non-hierarchical place where everyone has the opportunity to speak without interruption with the use of a talking piece. The circle upholds values such as:

  • respect
  • compassion
  • honesty
  • responsibility
  • accountability
  • diversity
  • equality
  • confidentiality

Because of the circle process many people find that the deep listening and ability to speak without interruption brings healing, understanding and transformation for everyone involved.

Some of the benefits are:
  • achieve greater understanding of people/issues
  • develop collaborative skills
  • resolve conflict
  • make decisions through consensus vs directives or majority rules
  • build relationships and community

Restorative Justice and Circle Process have been practiced, studied and researched for years. Use the  links below to learn more about Restorative Justice, Circles and how they’re used throughout the world:

Circles of Support Research

Circles of Support and Accountability have been around since the 1980’s. Read current research about the success of Circles of Support:

Circles of Support and Accountability: Dimensions of Practice, Research, and Interagency Collaboration in Prison Reentry, by Andrew J. McWhinnie, Robin J. Wilson, and Robert E. Brown

An Outcome Evaluation of Minnesota Circles of Support and Accountability, by Minnesota Department of Corrections

Resources for Restorative Justice, Peacemaking and Circles:

Restorative Justice Online

University of Minnesota Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice and Circles Blog

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