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Restorative Justice Circles: An Exploratory Study

Coates, Robert B
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Contemporary Justice Review. 6(3):265-278.

Peacemaking circles have received a great deal of attention within the international restorative justice movement. The use of peacemaking circles for structuring communication and decision-making in many diverse cultures is probably as ancient as humankind. Peacemaking circles are particularly integrated and used among the many indigenous tribes of North America. This article reports on the development and use of peacemaking circles in South Saint Paul, Minnesota, representing the first exploratory study of circles in the US. The South Saint Paul initiative represents one of the oldest efforts in the US to adapt circles as a restorative justice approach within the community and schools. Peacemaking circles were found to be an effective approach to involve community members in the process of holding local offenders accountable for repairing the harm they caused, to assist crime victims, and to foster a greater sense of connectedness among all those affected by crime within the community (Author’s abstract).


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