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Huikahi Restorative Circles: A public health approach for reentry planning

Jul 27, 2010

from the article by Lorenn Walker and Rebecca Greening in Federal Probation:

....The Huikahi Restorative Circle is a group process for reentry planning that involves the incarcerated individual, his or her family and friends, and at least one prison representative. The process was developed in 2005 in collaboration with two community-based organizations—the Hawai’i Friends of Civic &Law Related Education and the Community Alliance on Prisons—and the Waiawa Correctional Facility located on the island of O’ahu.

....While restorative justice provides the theoretical underpinning for the Huikahi Circles, its facilitators utilize solution-focused brief therapy language during the process. Solution-focused therapy acknowledges that a therapeutic process “happens within language and language is what therapists and clients use to do therapy” (de Shazer, 1994, p. 3). In this way, language is used to help people discover their inherent strengths and establish their goals and ways to achieve them. Insoo Kim Berg, a co-founder of solution-focused brief therapy, assisted in the design of the Huikahi Circle process.

....Since 2005 a total of 52 Huikahi Circles have been provided. Two incarcerated people had follow-up re-circles. A total of 50 incarcerated people,1 45 men and 5 women, had Circles. Altogether, 280 people (family, friends, prison staff/counselors and incarcerated individuals) participated in the Circles. Following each Circle, participants filled out surveys about their experience. One hundred percent of all participants reported that the Circle they participated in was a very positive or positive experience.

In addition to the full Huikahi Circles, 39 Modified Huikahi Restorative Circles, 9 for incarcerated women and 30 for men, have been provided in Hawaii.2 The Modified Circles developed as an alternative for people whose loved ones were unable or unwilling to attend a full Circle in a prison (Walker, 2009).

A total of 140 incarcerated people have applied for the Circles during a five-year period. They mainly learned about the process from other incarcerated people who had Circles or applied for one. To date 37 percent of the total applicants have been able to have Circles. A lack of resources and institutional support prevents delivering all the Circles requested. In addition, although all of the Circle participants requested a re-circle, to date only 2 have been provided because of a lack of funding.

Read the whole article.

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