Restorative Justice Circles (“Circles”) provide an opportunity for community members to come together to address harmful behavior in a process that explores harms and needs, obligations, and necessary engagement.
- Responsible Parties—the individuals whose actions have harmed others and/or the community
- Impacted Parties—those who were directly harmed by the respondents’ actions
- Affected Parties—others who consider themselves or their community to have been harmed by the actions of the respondents
- Supporting Parties—friends or family of either the respondents or the affected parties
- Facilitators—training OSCR staff who facilitate the Circle
What takes place at a Circle?
Circles bring all parties together to meet, talk about what happened, and settle on a plan to repair the harm.
In a typical Circle:
- Each person introduces themselves and their relationship within the Circle.
- Responsible Parties share what happened before, during, and after the incident, and how they feel about what happened.
- Affected Parties and Impacted Parties share what happened before, during, and after the incident, how they feel about what happened, and any questions they have
- Supporting Parties are invited to share any thoughts or feelings about what they’ve heard.
- Facilitators will ask questions to help guide the process. Facilitators are multipartial, rather than impartial: they are committed to supporting and assisting all parties in helping each person tell their story well.
- Once everyone has spoken, the group will brainstorm a list of options for repairing the harm done. Choosing from the list, the group decides which options could best repair the harm and that address the most important issues.
- If the group chooses to create a written Agreement, the facilitators will record the options chosen and compile the Agreement, which is signed by all parties.
- The Facilitators provide formal closure to the Circle. Participants are encouraged to contact OSCR with any concerns about non-compliance.
What are the benefits of using Circles to resolve complaints?
- Rather than focusing on what policies have been violated, Circles instead help identify who has been hurt and what must be done to repair the harm.
- In a Circle, all parties work together to develop an agreement that resolves the issue. All parties must assent in order for agreement to be reached. All parties exit feeling satisfied about both the process and the outcome.
- Circles help Responsible Parties restore their standing in their communities and repair any relationships that were damaged by their actions. Respondents often report that their ties within the community are strengthened as a result of having participated in the Circle.
- Circles provide Impacted Parties a safe, facilitated space to tell the Respondent how their actions caused harm. Impacted parties play an active part in deciding how the Respondent can best repair the harm done.
- Circles allow Supporting Parties to describe more holistically how what occurred has affected the party they are supporting.
- For complaints that may also constitute violations of the Statement, successful resolutions using Circles mean that the Respondent does not incur a disciplinary record.