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Healing a Fractured Community: The Use of Community Sentencing Circles in Response to Hate Crimes

Sapir, Brian
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution 9:207ff

“Within the Restorative Justice community of the United States, circle sentencing (also known as community circles,
peacemaking circles, or healing circles ) has evolved since the early 1990’s as an effective way of healing the harm that
the offender’s crime has done to the community, as well as getting to the root of the problems which may have contributed
to the offender’s actions in the first place. … The victim is given an opportunity to voice his or her fear and rage at
being victimized; the victim also has a chance to hear the offender’s story and gain a better understanding of why the
crime occurred; and lastly the victim walks away from the situation with reparations and a sense of having been involved
in the justice process and an overall feeling of closure. … Americans must learn from the experiences of post
September 11 not only to prepare for and prevent such crimes, but also to provide victims and communities with the
appropriate tools to handle the fear and anger resulting from such victimization. … The exclusion of the community
from the healing process by Victim-Offender Mediation and other Restorative Justice programs makes Sentencing
Circles the ideal technique to be used in hate crime cases. … While Circles have primarily dealt with non-violent offenses,
it is a stark reality that hate crimes manifest themselves in a spectrum of offenses including the ultra-violent.” (Excerpt from Author)


AbstractCirclesCourtsHate CrimePolicePolicyPrisonsRestorative PracticesRJ and the WorkplaceRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationTeachers and StudentsVictim Support
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