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Building a Compassionate Justice System
Restorative Circles (RC) offer ways for individuals and communities to establish connection, discover meaning and recover power on profound levels. They create forums for reaching agreements that help sustain effective and nurturing relationships both personally and collectively.
This Circle process has developed within the Restorative Justice (RJ) movement, which in recent decades has rediscovered and adapted ways for communities to promote responsibility and healing. Rethinking justice, and engaging with the challenge of consciously building whole system responses to community well-being, has opened up revolutionary possibilities for furthering a culture of peace.
Conflict is an inevitable part of the diversity of life. Yet few of us individually, let alone as a community, know how to respond to conflict with behaviors that do not produce pain and damage relationships.
The RC process offers a way to create community spaces for conflict that are safe and constructive, not destructive. It has been described as a straightforward problem-solving and nonviolent restoration method that demonstrates how community members can resolve their own conflicts when provided with a constructive forum to do so.
The establishment of a restorative system empowers communities to consciously choose how they would like to respond to conflict before it occurs – a form of proactive, preventative conflict transformation. It enables them to choose a nonviolent response to conflict that involves the whole community in discovering their own sustainable strategies by addressing immediate as well as underlying long term causes.