Intern Miranda's Blog: Who Does Circle Help - and How?

Now that we've discussed what circle does, and what it is, it's time to begin the discussion on how it can, and has, been used to help others. The premise of circle justice is not new. It was used in many cultures before it came to us modernly, and is still being used by many of them. The most important factor in circle justice is that it allows both victims and offenders to be heard and to work through the underlying issues, in order to truly begin the healing process.

One of the main problems with our justice system, and the reason there is so much recidivism, is that we don't focus on the actual problem, instead we simply remove people from the public. This means that when they eventually do get released, they do not have coping tools, or connections to the people around them to help them continue to make good choices.

Circle assists with this in many ways. By participating in circle, it is possible to discover and work through issues that may have caused you to make the poor choices that led to the crime. Perhaps you are stressed and lashed out, or don't know how to speak to someone who angers you. Maybe you don't know where to get help finding a job or keeping one. Circle gives you the opportunity to open up about that, in a safe environment, and gives you a whole group of individuals who may be able to offer insight and help.

This fact, also offers a whole group of the community who is now invested in you, and helping you. It provides connection and care that you would not have gotten in a traditional sentence. When we feel connected, it is proven that we are less likely to re offend.

For the victim, circle can also be incredibly helpful. It provides the chance to ask questions, and get answers you could not get normally. It also provides the ability to say what you feel needs to be said to the offender. You can then work forward on actually beginning to repair the damage, instead of simply trying to move on. [editor's note: WCCC never requires victims to participate, focusing instead on empowering the victim to participate in whatever way works best for them and their healing process]

For the community, circle strengthens their own bonds, but also helps them to get closure over the incident as well. If the offender is a burglar, and they are simply sent away, when they return, so does the worry of being victimized again. However, when they attend circle, the community members may learn they needed money to feed their family. They can then begin to work through the problem, in the hope that addressing the issue will prevent more incidents.

Overall, circle provides more connection and healing that holds. It may be an unfamiliar idea for handling offenders, but it's been proven to work. I often think about how we raise children. We do our best to explain what was wrong, and to change the thinking or circumstances that led to the behavior, so it does not continue. Why should our approach to adults not aim for the same thing? Circle does.~Mirands