Source: (2000) Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice. 18:60.

In the 1990s, circle sentencing emerged as a significant feature in the Canadian criminal justice system among First Nation communities. Circle sentencing involves direct participation of community members in sentencing the offender. This sentencing form combines Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal processes and norms of justice. In this article, McNamara examines the practice of circle sentencing against the background of the continuing demand by many Aboriginal communities for greater autonomy in the administration of justice. Specifically, to what extent does circle sentencing represent a genuine shift from non-Aboriginal sentencing processes, with their cultural foundations and aims, to Aboriginal cultural perspectives and practices with respect to law and justice? McNamara explores this question by considering the potential of circle sentencing to shift the locus of decision-making authority from judges within the criminal justice system to community participants in the circle sentencing process.