For Clients: Circle vs. the Traditional Process
Deciding to pursue going to Circle, rather than the traditional criminal justice process, is a very different experience. Clients involved in a Sentencing Circle can generally expect:
- A supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere with community volunteers in which clients will be asked to talk about the incident(s) that brought them to Circle as well as how they want to change.
- Circles with community members 2 times per month pre-sentence, and once a month post-sentence, if continuing in Circle is recommended through the sentence.
- Clients may work between Circles with professionals or experts who may help with specific personal issues or challenges, such as counselors/therapists, doctors, social workers, or through parenting classes or support groups.
- Contrast to traditional system:
- what was the harm caused (Circle) vs. what law was broken
- what needs have arisen from the harm (Circle) vs. who broke the law
- how do those needs get met (Circle) vs. how do we punish the person who broke the law