Daily Archives: April 5, 2012

Restorative Justice Circles, meeting the social brain needs, developing humanity.

For an example outside of this blog and SCVRJP, check out this presentation:  on DMC, from OJJDP, https://www.nttac.org/index.cfm?event=webinarJuvenileJustice   The slides and information on Circles start on PPT slide 44 (ppt here).

What is described in this program, is very much like the programming used at SCVRJP.  I have several blogs trying to describe it, today I want to recognized something I see as very much like the Circles I associate with being Restorative Justice Circle.  Each element contains certain responsibilities and when these responsibilities are honored and the work done, is by Circle, then great outcomes can happen.

Key Elements of a Circle

  • Circle keeper

  • Ground rules

  • Values

  • Decision by consensus

  • Talking piece

  • Centerpiece

  • Opening/closing

The Restorative Justice outcomes can happen in other styles and “expressions” of Restorative Justice.  From a simple conversation, to a formal Circle.  I really feel like SCVRJP has developed an effective, effective means for not only reaching outcomes, but touching humanity in our Circle participants that really changes for the long-term.  My area is not other types of Restorative Justice process, my area is a Restorative Justice Circle, as learned from many teachers

A power point from the National Association of Social Workers was recently forwarded to me.  A great presentation I didn’t hear directly, by Johnathan Jordan, mindfully change.  Some pieces immediately resonated and I can see how Restorative Justice Circle process promotes and leverages brain based change!

Our brains need social safety – this is established around students learning in schools and offenders making change.  So what do our social brains need most?  A SCARF, scarf stands for (From Slide 14, of the NASW power point):

Status – how we compare to others, competition, avoidance of being “wrong” or responsibility for being at fault
Certainty – clarity, opposite of confusion, risk free
Autonomy – ability to make decisions, sense of control
Relatedness – fitting in safely, belonging to a group
Fairness – how we are treated compared to others

How a Restorative Justice Circle promotes each of these:

Status – Power is equalized in Circle, the set up, the format, the allowing each person equal access to the talking piece and the manner that a true Keeper of Circle brings, promotes equal status.  The non-judgement you promote in Circle, also eliminates a fear of judgement.  I convey in Circle, each person is a student and each person is a teacher.  It feels good to be needed, and it feels validating to know your “lived experience” can be used as wisdom for others.
Certainty – Circles have a clear structure and process.  After explaining how the talking piece will work, I explain the great freedom this will allow us.  This structure and certainty of the process is reinforced when we use a consensus process at the very beginning and agree to use the values in the center, the paper plates as our guidelines.  (This practice is slightly different from the model Gwen/Alice/Kay teach).  You promote certainty by role modeling the process.  Don’t blurt, because as keeper of community rep, you just role modeled that you don’t have to follow the guidelines, and that means you have stepped out of your equality status.
Autonomy – There is complete autonomy for each and every person in Circle.  You decide how you will be in Circle, you have the option to pass.  You promote inclusion and invitation as the keeper.  This allows freedom for people.  The first few stages, where you are doing the “silly before the serious” allows people to express themselves.  They realize they are free to be themselves, and then magically they open up to a place of being someone who wants to learn and even change.
Relatedness – It is amazing and the power of Circle immediately shows us we are all connected, more alike than different.  Using the process lights up the brains and hearts of all participants.  The final stage of Circle, where you reflect on the experience ties this all together.
Fairness – Circles are so fair, because of the equality.  Circle promote the fairness because of the equal opportunity for the talking piece.  You can speak your voice and mind, and maybe you don’t feel it was “fair” that you got arrested, but once that is voiced, we can move on in Circle to the choices made, and what could be made in the future.
I really encourage you to learn Circle by being in Circle, to embrace all the key elements and to leverage your influence on humanity by providing your community with real Restorative Justice Circles.

Full pdf article on SCARF

The Neuroscience of Better Negotiations PPT from NASW (©2012 National Association of Social Workers. All Rights Reserved)

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Filed under Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Circle Stages, Community, Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, Practitioner Skills, Restorative Justice, SCVRJP, Talking Piece, Teaching RJ