Restorative Justice (RJ) is an approach to justice where the focus is on repairing the harm caused by an offense. It is based on the belief that the way to attain justice is by problem solving, not by punishment or retaliation. RJ is a cooperative process that involves three main stakeholders – the victim, the offender, and the affected community – with all taking an active role in the restorative process. The stakeholders engage in meaningful discussion and cooperative decision making, in search of answers that help repair, rebuild, and, ultimately, reconcile the affected relationships.
A circle is a restorative practice that can be used to develop relationships or it can be used to repair relationships that have been damaged by wrongdoing or conflict. The circle process gives people an opportunity to speak and listen to one another in an atmosphere of safety, dignity, and fairness, while telling their stories from their own viewpoints. Circles incorporate the idea that every individual is part of a community and that individual actions affect those within that community emotionally, economically, and physically. Circles can be used for many purposes, including conflict resolution, healing, support, decision making, information exchange, and relationship development.