by Dianna Bennett
What are Peacemaking Circles you ask? They are a restorative practice used in Restorative Justice, along with having a few other pretty amazing applications…so stay tuned. Restorative Justice is a voluntary process. It is a grassroots, community based response to crime or harm resulting from situations. It has been practiced in many countries throughout the world and has over the past few years been written into more Canadian criminal code legislation as an alternative for young offenders as well as an option for adult offenders, and most recently victims legislation.
So what makes Peacemaking Circles such an effective tool to resolve harm resulting from crime or situations? First of all, it doesn’t bog down a Courtroom and all those tax dollars attached to traditional justice system processes. More importantly though, is that it gives a real voice to the person harmed (victim) in a personal, meaningful and impactful way as they directly participate in the process. The person who caused the harm (offender) has an opportunity to be accountable in an authentic and meaningful way and repair the harmed caused, based on the needs of those they have harmed. Lastly, it really is about being accountable to each other as humans in a humane way. None of us exist in a vacuum, and so what affects one effects all. Restorative Justice can meaningfully address root causes and social conditions that lead to crime and harm.
This is all achieved through a trained facilitator who undertakes preparing those involved until they feel safe and ready to proceed with the Restorative Justice process. Those who have participated in Restorative Justice share that – although it is not for the faint of heart, it did their heart good! They were able to move on with their lives. We need to rethink the impact of traditional justice and set a new course for the future.
Join us for Part II of our feature on Peacemaking Circles and Restorative Practices next week and learn more about Dianna.