Source: (2002) Paper presented at "Dreaming of a New Reality," the Third International Conference on Conferencing, Circles and other Restorative Practices, August 8-10, 2002, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This session will examine the degree to which the idea of Aboriginal justice, and the concepts associated with this idea, have been furthered by the implementation of sentencing circles in Aboriginal communities across Canada. It will be argued that the amount of control that Aboriginal community members have over the sentencing circle process and sentencing itself is an important factor in furthering the idea of Aboriginal justice within a Western justice framework. This session will begin with a general overview of the presenter's thesis study and the circle process itself. The findings of the study will be discussed as well as the suggestion that while circle participants can introduce Aboriginal traditions and practices into the circle process and can suggest restorative and healing sentencing plans, they do this within the constraints of the criminal justice system. The session will conclude with a discussion about the need for justice system reforms in Canada, the problems of implementing such reforms as well as next steps and suggestions for further research. Author's abstract

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