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Circles

Articles describing the various uses of the circle process.

Calling a circle....
from John Gehm's entry on Restore: What does it mean when we say, “We’re calling a circle?” In the context of restorative practices I take it to mean that we are clearing a space where community can enter. It may or it may not choose to do so. But sitting in circle is the best we’ve got to silence the din and distraction of daily life and risk finding out that beneath whatever differences we may have on the surface we are connected deeply by what we have in common. Authentic community is rare and it is safe. It is the opposite of that place we mostly inhabit filled with masks, anxiety, invisibility, power and imbalance. Circles done well open a place for empathy, respect, empowerment, and direct communication for authentic ‘human being.’ Restorative circles are used for sentencing, for reconciliation, for healing, for celebration, for talking and for educating.
Chilean delegation learns about the “Safe Streets” program and participates in a circle
from Lisa J. Laplante's entry on the Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog: In the afternoon, we were joined by Distinguished Professor and Director of the MULS Restorative Justice Initiative, Janine Geske and headed to the South Side of Milwaukee in an MU athletic van. At the Kosciusko Community Center, we met with Paulina de Haan, co-coordinator of the Safe Streets Program, who had convened a circle of community members: parole officers, offenders who recently finished their prison terms, and policemen.
Circles for sex offenders first in the South
from the article by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan in the Herald-Sun: Durham is starting the first Circles of Safety and Accountability in the South for sex offenders getting out of prison. COSA will match recently released sex offenders in Durham with a circle of people who will meet with them weekly to hold them accountable and support them in re-entering the community. Durham County is home to about 300 convicted sex offenders.
Lilles, Heino. Yukon sentencing circles and elder panels
Aboriginal people experience rates of incarceration in Canada disproportionately high in relation to the percentage of the total population they constitute. Many feel that the current criminal justice system in Canada is a significant part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
McCold, Paul. Overview of mediation, conferencing, and circles
McCold begins his overview of certain restorative justice processes by presenting a typology of restorative justice practices – a typology oriented around the inclusion of the victim, the offender, and their “communities of care.”
Schechtman, Lisa. Applications of Peacemaking Circles in Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Torture Survivors
Although restorative justice is based in very old traditional practices, its widespread use in the modern criminal justice system is a relatively recent phenomenon, as is described in further detail in Chapter 4. Restorative justice is increasingly a topic of serious research and its practice is now more common than even a decade earlier. However, sub-practices of restorative justice— particularly Peacemaking Circles, the topic of this paper—in mental health settings and research into applications thereof are apparently rare and quite limited. As such, the work contained herein is highly theoretical, combining a substantial literature review with limited primary research designed to assist in the proposal of applications of Peacemaking Circles to the mental health of torture survivors and other survivors of human rights violations.
Menzel, Kenneth. Circle Sentencing as a Shaming Sanction
At its heart, circle sentencing is a form of shaming. In the presence of the victim of her crime, her peers, and the community at large, an offender must own up to the wrongful conduct in which she engaged. By personally publicizing her criminal act, an offender can expect to feel markedly embarrassed, decidedly shaken, and wholeheartedly regretful. Thus, instilling shame upon the offender is a major purpose of circle sentencing. At the same time, however, the shame instilled upon the offender lasts no longer than the length of that particular circle sentencing episode. By virtue of the personalized nature of the sentence, the legitimacy of the sentence giver, and the atmosphere conducive to apology, the offender is reincorporated back into the community without any lingering badge of dishonor. Simply put, the shame placed upon the offender, while great, is also finite and is ultimately lifted in favor of community reintegration.
How key elements of a Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle create more than conversation.
From the article by Kris Miner on Restorative Justice and Circles: Circles are so simple, yet so complex. I’ve been told I make it look easy, that ease comes from a deep committment to honor the process and the key elements of Restorative Justice Circles. Here are a few of the elements and how utilizing them impacts the process, creating a deeper container a richer experience, and has people quickly moving to a place of emotional safety.
Restorative justice: New approaches in Brazil
by luigimorelli on the blog A Revolution of Hope: Today, most of the deaths of Brazilian adolescents are caused by gang-related murders. To counteract gangs’ advanced organization police repression looks more and more like guerrilla. However, the government is realizing that a strictly adversarial approach is not going to advance a resolution. In the mid-1990s, Dominic Barter began working with favela residents, including drug gang members, to help them strengthen nonviolent options for working with young people. “I saw violence as a monologue,” said Barter, referring to both gang activity and its repression, “I wanted to create a dialogue.”
The purpose of ‘kooky’ in restorative justice circles
from Kris Miner's blog Restorative Justice and Circles: People that participate in Circles with me, become really honest about what they thought at first. This honest testimony about what people thought about a Circle at first, and what they think now is an endorsement for the process. The most recent description like this used the term ” kooky“. It’s been mentioned that they seemed wierd. One advocate says that when I first described it he thought it was for little kids. Now he tells people how effective the Circle is. He participates strongly and completely in every Circle we have done together, from college classes, to residential treatment programs, half-way houses and underage consumption panels.
The fight room
from the article by Elaine Shpungin and Dominic Barter in Tikkun: Today we continue to struggle with other epidemics, such as the widespread persistence of interpersonal violence, structural violence, and violence based in inter-racial and inter-ethnic tensions. Not only is the cost great in terms of lost lives and personal trauma, but considerable resources are also spent on attempts to subdue, redirect, and control the violence. Yet, as in nineteenth-century London, we may continue to make little progress in treating this disease until we are willing to honestly re-examine our deeply held beliefs about its origins.
Restorative practices in Hungary: An ex-prisoner is reintegrated into the community
from the article by Vidia Negrea: As the representative of Community Service Foundation of Hungary, the Hungarian affiliate of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), I participated in a group session of the Hungarian Crime Prevention and Prison Mission Foundation in summer 2009 (Sycamore Tree Project — www.pfi.org/cjr/stp/introduction — or Zacchaeus Program in Hungary). There I met the governor of Balassagyarmat prison, where inmates were working in groups on issues related to their crimes and exploring ways to repair relationships they had damaged. Some inmates began accepting responsibility for what they had done and were motivated to make things right and earn forgiveness of victims and their families. Prisoners made symbolic reparation in the form of community service within the prison, but there was still a lot to do to create opportunities for offenders to make contact with victims and shed the stigma of their offense by means of direct reparation. Also, prison management believed it important to support processes, acceptable to victimized families and communities, to help prisoners regain control of their lives and prevent reoffending.
'Talking stick' helps facilitate restorative justice response to destructive behaviors
Restorative Justice Dialogue: An essential guide for research and practice
Restorative Justice Dialogue: An essential guide for research and practice. Mark Umbreit and Marilyn Peterson Armour (2010). New York: Springer Publishing Co. 339 pages.
Restorative Justice Initiative. Circles: Use of the Talking Stick, Feather, Rock.
Generally, a piece which has particular meaning to the community is used as the talking piece passed to facilitate and share speaking time in the circle. (excerpt)
FACE circles: A well rounded opportunity in Canada
from the article by Sharon Weatherall in the Free Press: In North Simcoe people can find resolution out of court through the Forum of Accountability in a Circle Experience (FACE) -a Huronia Restorative Justice Project since 1998. The Midland program was part a worldwide revival of the native traditional way of dealing with offensive behavior -and it works. A community circle is an alternative to traditional court proceedings where offending conduct is resolved by having the offender, the victim and supporters of each sit together in a circle to opening discuss an incident and work to reach a consensus on how to resolve the harm done.
Restorative justice talking circles: The simplest of questions can connect us
From an entry on Kris Miner's blog Restorative Justice and Circles: I came up with the “getting acquainted” question off the top of my head. I asked what winter clothing item, do you most enjoy wearing. It was the last class of the semester so about the 16th Circle for this group. I was impressed and struck by how connected we became over articles of clothing. A student just a few seats to my right, turned up his jeans at the ankle, and talked about loving his flannel jeans. Of course I thought how I always wanted to get a pair of those. The talking piece was across the Circle, another student, made comment to his peer across the Circle ” . . . me, too” and showed the flannel lining of his jeans. Someone else talked about loving mittens that divide your fingers on the inside. I connected with that. It was really fun a round of answers to listen to. A recent evaluation form had the feedback that what the person liked least was “too much fluff at the begining, unnecessary”. I thought about that Circle, and I know I spent some time getting all 22 people feeling comfortable. I do feel the stages are structured to get us prepared for the tougher questions.
Different types of restorative justice circles and a practitioner perspective
from the entry by Kris Miner on Restorative Justice and Circles: Just as there are 12 major markings on the face of a clock, I could list 12 different kinds of Circles. In four basic categories those Circles would be community building – peace building – repair building – and celebration. This also creates a full circle! A very brief explanation on these four categories, followed by a practitioner perspective. All these Circles use the 4 stages and phases I have written about on this blog. You use good Circlekeeping skills and techniques for each of these.
What is a justice circle and why should I be interested?
From Ms. W's Summer Reading Blog: A Justice Circle is a one time gathering of all people affected by a particular incident of youth crime. The goal of a Circle is to allow people who have been directly involved in an incident to decide together what the outcome should be. Based in the philosophy of Restorative Justice, the focus is on offender accountability, problem solving and creating an equal voice for victim and offender.
accountability
I am curious about what the circles will be holding the person accountable for. Is it their past actions,their current life, whereabouts or what? [...]

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