U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Building Community Justice Partnerships: Community Peacemaking Circles

NCJ Number
Barry Stuart
Date Published
150 pages
This document describes the steps involved in initiating, operating, and maintaining partnerships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and formal justice agencies in Canada to develop shared responsibilities for handling crime problems through Community Peacemaking Circles, based on the experience of the Yukon.
The manual discusses planning, government support, the importance of volunteers, the need to maintain essential justice principles and practices, eligibility and the application process, the logistics of a circle, and methods of follow-up. The manual emphasizes that universal blueprints for achieving the maximum potential of a circle process are neither possible nor useful. Instead, each community must struggle to evolve a process unique to its circumstances and must build, own, and operate the process. The introduction also notes that the emotional and spiritual dynamics of the circle are more important than the steps of the process, although the manual focuses on the process itself. It explains that the basic principles of interest-based negotiation, mediation, consensus building, and peacemaking were part of the dispute-resolution practices of many European and Asian communities many generations ago and are still inherent to the philosophy and practices of Aboriginal communities. All contemporary peacemaking and sentencing circles share the following principles: (1) a consensus approach, (2) an interest-based approach, (3) self-design by the community, (4) flexibility, (5) spirituality, (6) holistic healing, (7) inclusiveness, (8) voluntary participation, (9) direct participation, (10) equal opportunity, and (11) respect. Figures and reference notes