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Circle Sentencing: Involving Aboriginal Communities in the Sentencing Process

Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Discussion Paper. New South Wales, Australia: Lawlink, Attorney General’s Department of NSW. Downloaded 7 March 2005.

Circle sentencing or circle courts arose in Canada in the early 1992 out of a decision from the
Supreme Court of the Yukon in the case of R v Moses. In that case the presiding judge, Judge
Stuart, advocated a significant change in the Canadian sentencing process. Judge Stuart was
of the opinion that a significant and immediate improvement could be achieved within the
judicial system by increasing meaningful community involvement in the sentencing process,
before during and after the sentencing takes place. In attempting to implement this Judge
Stuart consulted the local Indian community and the concept of circle courts was developed.
Circle courts were adopted by a number of more traditionally oriented first nations people in
Canada, but have subsequently been adopted in Canadian urban settings and are also now
used in the United States. (excerpt)


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