Circle Keeping, brain science connections.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program (SCVRJP) has delivered 1,000’s of Circles and trained 100’s of people in Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle process.  Circles in kindergarten classrooms, museums, prisons, college campus, fire departments, churches and many at the Restorative Justice Center.

As our program demands grown, the need to teach people the art of Circle keeping has grown.  As a non-profit working alongside criminal justice systems, the need to be “evidence-based” is crucial.  Having great outcomes, it is important to maintain the success.  These means teaching others how to do powerful, meaningful, effective Circle keeping.  I have focused on this for years.  The increased demand in training requests, partnered with the requests to do a two-day training in half-a-day has caused me to be analytical in the delivery of quality training, effective skills and targeted strategies for Circle keeping.

At a recent training I shared the technique of contracting or expanding my explanation of Restorative Justice and Circle.  In the very beginning before the opening reading, when starting I suggest doing this.  A training participant asked me more about what I meant.  I explained speaking longer or shorter, and monitoring the emotional climate.  I was asked again what I meant.  I realized I had developed my “feeling” for it.  My intuition had developed from doing Circles so often.  The second nature of Circle keeping is living and expresing the values of Restorative Justice.

Right then in the training session, I started explaining what that meant.  I talked about body posture of others, eye contact, how I was feeling.  What are the clues to “knowing” when we are ready to start Circle.  I used words like: trust, calm, connection.  Today I found what it is by brain science!

A HUGE ah-ha!  In reading Words Can Change your Brain, by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, I noted the 12 Strategies of Compassionate Communication and powerful and making a TON of sense in the context of Restorative Justice.  I had to see if I could find a handout for this afternoons training.  It led me to learning the neural resonance also called neural coupling is a speaker-listener brain based connection!  THAT is the element to use when monitoring your Circle for emotional climate!


Developing Restorative Justice Circle Intuition.

The first step is to gain knowledge, the ‘how to’ of a Restorative Justice Circle.  Then you develop experience, those experiences lend to your understanding and ability to predict what happens.  Pour in some passion, some real care and authenticity to your work and you’ll develop an effective style of Circle Keeping.  That blends to provide Circle intuition.

A few knowledge pieces:

  1. It is good to know, the four stages of Circle.  How to move between the four, and what the philosophical rational is behind each stage.
  2. Members in Circle reflect your relationship.  Build connections as soon as you can with those in Circle.  This can happen in pre-conference (preparation meetings) or as you engage people coming to the session.
  3. Each Circle has something to offer you as a lesson.  The Circle is the power, and in that the wisdom.  Create safety, and people will share.

A bit about passion:

From the website:
From the website:
  1. Being passionate, is bringing your special relationship to Circle/Restorative Justice.  Don’t leave what you find of value about Circles or your own values outside the Circle.
  2. People respond to genuine and authentic individuals, own your passion, and allow others the freedom and space to own theirs.  I was working with an experienced group, I shared that I told a reporter I was a Circle-freak, some else shared being a Circle-addict.  I’ve heard Circle-hog, as an apology for always suggesting Circle.


  1. Nothing substitutes for experience.  You can read about riding a bike, or swimming, nothing like the experience.  It is not just the experience of keeping, the experience of participating in Circle.  Find places to be in Circle.
  2. Watch keepers, develop outlines, find a mentor, ask questions about the style and use of questions and techniques.  An experienced facilitator will make decisions and guide a process for a reason.
  3. Create your own experiences if needed.  I had a teen Circle for my daughter and few others, that was enough to give me two extra experiences a month.  For a short time, I hosted ‘New Moon’ Circles, to give space to talk about values.  Use a Circle demonstration when going to give an explanation of Restorative Justice.

Intuition is developed when you become more natural.  Intuition is the deep inner knowing.  Restorative Justice Circle intuition allows a keeper to move confidently.  Consider the experience of each and every person in Circle.  Seek to balance the needs of each person.  When someone is sharing, observe how that is changing or impacting the emotional climate in the room.

When keepong, you have a general sense and an idea of where the Circle will go, you don’t control the outcomes for each individual.  This balance requires an intuition about Circles.  The more you develop knowledge, passion, experience and intuition, the more you will be invited to keep and the deeper and more effective the Circles will be.

The healing potential in Circle, life after death and the wisdom of lived experience.

As a Circle-keeper, some Circles are so powerful and moving, life lessons around humanity resonate to the very core.  I’ve often said & blogged, that if you are doing ‘Restorative Justice’ well, it changes you.  When something changes you, you remember it.  The kind of change I am talking about is a deeper understanding of others.  The change that comes with an ‘ah-ha’ we are all having a similar experience.  We all have more courage, more strength, more wisdom than we thought.

The Circles that are hanging in my heart and mind, have been ones where we have put the trauma of death in the center.  We have taken the 4 stages of Circle, and put next to them, the 4 phases of Restorative Justice Story telling.

As part of Restorative Response, a program of SCVRJP, the community can request a Circle.  Restorative Response is a program to address healing after un-natural death.  For example homicide, suicide, traffic fatality, drug-overdose, accidents that might cause a sudden, unexpected loss.

Reseach & training has taught us that un-natural death includes additional elements to process.  This includes 3 “V’s”, the violence, violation and volition.  By speaking and listening to one another in Circle, you can begin to let the process of talking about these 3 “V’s”.

I’ve been amazed at these ‘life after death’ Circles. Hearing each others stories, reduces isolation, increases understanding and promotes peace of heart.  I firmly believe: Circles Heal.

It seems these Circles include 3 “C’s”.  Carry-on, Cope, Continue – life after death.  The first is how we ‘Carry-On’ after a loss.  This is the basic and immediate reactions upon hearing or seeing a traumatic event.  By sharing where we were when we got the news, or the parts of the incident that have left images, the burden is lifted.  There is wisdom in survival.  Talking about these pieces helps everyone in Circle feel more connected and have a bit more understanding.  Some traumatic deaths, homicide and suicide, really leave gaps in understanding.  Getting understanding from others helps.  Especially when, collectively we don’t understand “how could someone . . .” or “why” something happened, getting more understanding helps with areas where there is none.  Circles reinforce the first C- to Carry-On.

The second C is Cope.  When you speak about the impact of an incident, you get to relate your own individual impact and experience.  This allows each person a chance to be heard by everyone.  To be listened to is to be validated.  To listen builds empathy.  The action of ‘coping’ is heard within each story of how you are impacted.  We share what we are left to cope with, releasing the burden that we are doing that alone, because others listening to this, helps us.  We are wired for connection, empathy is a powerful tool in humanity.  Circles bring this forward.

The final C is Continue.  How do we Continue on after trauma, how do we find life after death.  For some these C’s could take years, or they could be spiral experiences that you move through again and again.  In Circle, people exchange their experiences in finding hope and resiliency.  This happens in the reflection part of the story or the taking action phase of the Circle.  Finding hope and resiliency are important stages to remind us the story we tell ourselves is as important as the experience.  You plant seeds of hope when you ask each person to share about their resiliency or their ‘post traumatic growth’.  Wisdom is really apparent at this stage.  The sense of hope is compounded by the fact people just shared some really, heavy stuff (the incident, the impact).  The ability to ‘Continue’ is reinforced by the sense that we are all in this together.  We all experienced this traumatic event, we all have different parts, yet together we can move ahead in COMMUNITY.

Restorative Justice stakeholders discuss program experience.

 Valentine’s Day 2012 was a good one!  Judges, court clerks, law enforcement, social workers, fellow nonprofit providers, clergy, attorney’s and victim advocates attended a stakeholder meeting hosted by SCVRJP.  (New website launched today – check it out!)

The panel speakers came from a variety of backgrounds and experiences with Restorative Justice.

Randy shared the experience of losing his daughter, after a drunk driver, only a month older, caused a crash that took her life.  We reached out to Randy, and only after his own reckless driving, and deferred prosecution, did he engage with SCVRJP.  He now continues to volunteer, continues to share the gut wrenching and painful story of life without Alyssa.

Mark, a probation agent, explained his interaction with Restorative Justice.  He provided a case example, where the former “all american-kid” with no record caused a traffic fatality.  The young man, the former all-american, still volunteers telling his story.  The agent verified the work and outcomes of Restorative Justice.

Local prosecutor shared how he uses the program, offers “carrots”, which I explained to others can look like a stick!

A community volunteer shared her experiences with SCVRJP and Restorative Justice.  She explained the connections between prevention, intervention and treatment of health issues.  She had examples at every level, Circles that provided successful outcomes with each.

A middle school counselor shared using Circles in school, to develop emotional connections for students.  A college student shared his experience, relating how a blackout resulted in frightening a community member.  He shared how meeting with the victim helped the victim, helped him.  He shared the meeting started a little tense, yet was helpful to both parties.  He also shared getting two hugs on arrival, one from the RJ facilitator and the other from the victim.

SCVRJP collected surveys on what works, what’s needed and other helpful comments.  The power in the meeting was some brainstorming about potential sessions.  We showed people what we do, when Randy shared part of his story.  Each speaker provided a different perspective, building on the evidence that Restorative Justice works.

I feel so blessed to get to work in a community program providing Restorative Justice.  SCVRJP has specialized in Restorative Justice Circles.  We are starting year 11 of serving our community and today, was a perfect celebration of a community coming together and finding healing, connection and prevention!



Restorative Justice, criminology of self or other, a lesson from the process.

To encourage understanding of our work, and to do what I teach, SCVRJP staff meetings include a reading, a reflection and a check-in.

I teach, that agencies or schools that use Circles or Restorative Justice, should parellel the process within the agency.  That would mean using the restorative concepts as part of agency functioning, elements or, or actual Circles as part of meetings.

At a recent staff meeting, a co-workers shared from a book in the SCVRJP library.  I found it interesting, and appreciated the knowledge and concepts.  It made me appreciate that our agency brings these elements to staff meetings.  You never know when you might just get a new way to consider or understand Restorative Justice.

Book: Restorative justice, self-interest and responsible citizenship. Lode Walgrave

Pages: 192-193

Another spin-off of restorative justice for criminology is that the conceptions of crime, criminals and crime-fighting are stripped of their exceptional character. Mainstream criminology is predominantly what Garland (2001) calls a ‘criminology of the other’. Such criminology considers those who commit offenses as another kind of human, intrinsically different from law-abiding citizens; it focuses on particular risk groups, such as immigrants, drug users or youths in deprived neighborhoods, which it presents as threats to the existing social order. The criminology of the other aims to produce theoretical, empirical and practical knowledge that will allow better control of risk groups or render them less harmful for the average citizen. In doing so, this criminology delivers expertise that further excludes and controls the poor and marginalized; it becomes a technology of social exclusion and thus significantly advances dualisation in society.

‘Criminology of the self’ (Garland 2001), on the contrary, considers those who commit crime as normal people. The person who offends is one of us, someone who, because of circumstances, has ended up in a position that caused him to act illegally and to harm others. It could have happened to any citizen. But criminology of the self can ‘normalise’ the criminal in two different ways. It can bring the level down, by regarding all humans as potential criminals. The consequence of such approach is that we all live in mutual distrust to protect ourselves against one another through, for example, situational prevention strategies based on rational choice theories (Felson 1994). In Putnam’s terms, social capital is then drastically degraded, which, as I have described briefly, is disastrous for the quality of social life and for democracy.

A restorative process offering the offender the opportunity to make up the harm caused may be a major help in the offender’s quest for rehabilitation. Basically restorative justice has this normalising approach to all those involved in the aftermath of crime and looks at both the victim and offender as normal, reasonably responsible persons. It presupposes that, in the right conditions, both victim and offender will be prepared to try and find a solution that is acceptable to all parties, including the interests of the larger community and public safety. As seen in previous chapters, this trust is not naïve, but is sufficiently supported by experience and empirical data to justify it as the starting point in considering what should and can be done once an offense occurs.

Felson, M. (1994) Crime and Everyday Life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Garland, D. (2001) The Culture of Control. Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press



Restorative (Measures, Practices,Justice ) Circles meet and beat bully behavior with it’s own definition.

This blog title includes the words “measures”, “practices” and “justice” in parenthesis – because Restorative Circles, are a similar but different approach to the Restorative Justice Circles I am blogging about.  Restorative Justice started in criminal justice and moved to be an effective school intervention, thus the words “measures” & “practices”.

I agree and work from the definition of bully behavior (click here, Olweus) that frames bully behavior is (1)unwanted, negative (2) repeated and involves an (3)imbalance of power.  I believe Circles can change bully behavior by the very definition of what bully behavior is.  Let me set some backdrop (I encourage you to click on the links).

Restorative Justice seeks to change the culture by changing the climate, very much like PBIS Recommendations are effective bully prevention efforts are school-wide and comprehensive, the exact same recommendation for implementing a Restorative School!

You can use the different types of Circles at the different tiers of the PBIS triangle.  This looks like: Tier I-All students, Tier II-Some students, Tier III – Few students.

With that background, when it comes to addressing bully behavior with Circles – I think you should apply the definition of bullying to make it even more effective!

1)negative and unwanted – – After experiencing Tier I & II Circles, students will be willing to participate in Tier III Circles.  You will need to carefully prepare all participants at Tier III.  The restorative magic, happens when students explain the depth and experience of negative and unwanted behavior from others.  When explained from a perspective of real life experience, you can not deny or minimize.  Empathy develops and empathy can motivate a change of behavior.  Facing what exactly the behavior is and addressing the harms helps clarify, for all involved, what the behavior is.  You get to clearly state the “unwanted” aspect.

2)repeated – Just like a single incident is not bully behavior, a single Circle is not likely to fix it.  Circles done consistently will change the climate.  Circles at the different Tiers, will help change behavior, Circles can be applied, again to the same situation.   We have forgotten “repetition is the Mother of knowledge”.  I understand that more serious behaviors should have more serious responses, but please don’t stop doing Circles after one attempt.  Please don’t go directly to a Tier III Circle and expect it to be 100% effective.  If students will repeatedly exposed to each other, the Circle should be repeated.

3)imbalance of power.  Circles are about equality, they are the opposite of bully behavior.  To diffuse the bully behavior, apply the opposite.  Place equality in your school, in your classroom.  I believe Circles are far and away the best way to balance power.  I also teach teachers, to move the relationships to learning from only the teachers responsibility to the responsibility of each learner.  The power to learn is within each student, where it becomes a life-long skill, vs the skill of the teacher.

The power of Circle is amazing.  People transform in Circle.  Recently a participant had such insight she actually said she was embarresed for statments she made earlier in the Circle.  That kind of ah-ha, comes from within, and Circles address things within.

Resource Book from IIRP, Restorative Circles in Schools.

Remembering what is important, science vs storytelling OR consilience.

I recently forgot what was important.  Values are important to me.  I take advisement from research (or as Capella would have it, I am a critical thinker).  I try to live my life in balance, in positive relationships.  I get lessons once in awhile.  The lesson today – science and storytelling.

Here is a post about a book Deep Brain Learning, where I learned the term Consilience.

Most nonprofit work and especially Restorative Justice depends on the social value created.  We know the fabric of community changes when we do things that promote the good of people.

Check out this great story on a celebration in Yellow Medicine County.  The story, explains the program beyond dollars and numbers.

In my reading for school, Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations, social value was defined as things that are: spiritual, moral, societal, aethetic, intellectual and enviornmental.  Nonprofits promote mission for the social value created.  The author adds that social value TRANSCENDS economic value.  Our mission statements are the fuel providing psychological energy (Phills, 2005).  You can’t measure that kind of energy and for each person it can change over time.  My relationships to those social values has gotten deeper with more and more Restorative Justice expereinces.  I have gotten to know, to really know how these things work.  Stats are great, the power of the story is even better.

So I know this.  In my head and in my heart.  There is science (outcomes, stats, concrete things) and there is story (values, feelings, knowing).   This knowing doesn’t prevent me from being overly attached to a number.  The number is just over 115,000.  That’s the number of site visits to my blog, Circlespace.  I have recently moved from a long web address that includes wordpress, to a nice short web address of

Right now, the site stats have not transfered.  Last I checked, only 232 site visits on the new site.  I am not taking this well.  I found myself urgently explaining to my web contractor how I want to be blogging for Time and Newsweek and 200,000 is so much better than 200.  I caught myself, because I felt anxiety as I was telling her this.  I never started this blog to be blogging for Time or Newsweek.  I started this blog to help people with Restorative Justice, especially Circles.  I recognized my anxiety as a drift from my priorities.

The wonderful calm, technology person, pointed out my content transfered.  I realized things could be worse.  All 607 posts are available at  We are working on the subscriptions moving and potentially the statistic rank.  My lesson, for me, the one I am sharing here, is to remember there are many influences.  We need to remember our original intentions, not to get caught up in a number.

Consilience – the merging of knowings.  Using research, practice and values, overlap those Circles, and in the middle is truth.

The truth is, I get to think outloud emotionally and intelectually with the blog.  One of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk, pointed this out in a recent blog bootcamp.  The ranking being 1 million or 10 doesn’t matter, if the benefit is my sense of helping, my social value OR the social value for one person, then this blog has purpose.  The story of this blog, as I have experienced it, is that it helps.  The story of this blog, is that it gets shared. I’ve been told it does provide value.

I value social value.  I found myself getting an attachment to a numeric value.  Blogging is a great way to clarify your values, I just literally told everyone about my journey.  I took a trip, I tripped up what I know, I attached to something different a number vs a value.

I’m telling you, to help you remember consilience – the merging of your knowing.  Find your truth in the center of research, practice and values.


Similiar leadership tools, nonprofit management and Restorative Justice.

I’m working on a PhD in Nonprofit Administration, Capella University.  Taking a course on Nonprofit Leadership. I am starting year 7 as a nonprofit Executive Director, and learning a great deal from my coursework.

As you know, I see things through the lens of my passion for Restorative Justice.  So I’m sharing with you some of the leadership tools and areas I see organizational leadership, especially in the nonprofit sector, mimic Restorative Justice.

Defining vs Thinking about.  Leadership, like Restorative Justice can have many definitions.  Authors in the course text encourage mega-theory or approaching leadership as how you THINK about it.  This reminded me that you can have many different definitions of Restorative Justice.  Three Pillars, 5 “R’s”, there are various definitions, but the overarching “thinking” about Restorative Justice is key.  It is a philosophical approach  – – and the link to leadership is that both require skills at taking a framework and applying it to a concrete situation.*

Recently asked about my agency resource, my response “the power of the human spirit”.  A look of confusion on the interviewers face and I explained, with concrete situations, how and why that is.  Restorative Justice uses storytelling, SCVRJP volunteer storytellers are coached and supported in Restorative-Storytelling.  I explained how people are impacted by hearing stories directly.  It takes the human spirit to heal.  It takes human spirit to move ahead to be a better and different person.  The lessons of the heart are the ones that shape who we are.

I have always promoted that as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is healing.  No one definition, no one process for grief.  I was watching PBS on Tuesday, Elusive Justice.  The narration began to explain that there are as many definitions of justice, as there are crime victims.  That spoke to me about the individual experience of being a victim.  “No one definition”, is a way of thinking about victims, survivors, individuals.

I’ve experienced Restorative Justice to work best, when I give a person complete room and freedom, a blank slate to express and have experiences of loss, grief and healing.  Being non-judgmental in the presence of another allows them expression and someone bearing witness to validate their experience.

Leadership as non-judgmental as Restorative Justice.  From the article “The Termite Theory of Leadership”, quoting Margaret Wheatley:

All life resists being bossed around.

The article goes on to share more Wheatly-ism, in that as managers (and I believe in Restorative Justice), we need to remember “life’s great imperatives”.  These imperative, which I would also call “Universal Truths” include:

  • being free to recreate OR preserve ourselves
  • form relationships
  • invent new ways of doing things
  • be unique
  • find meaning in what we do

Wheatly explains that imposing structure results in resistance.  I share these examples as a demonstration that Restorative Justice requires us to work within an oxymoron: free-form.  The freedom that people have individual experiences – the framework & form of theory.

I learned leadership takes courage & responsibility*.  Restorative Justice takes both courage & responsibility.  It takes courage to do a practice that is counter-intuitive to most.  It takes courage to bear witness to crime, trauma, grief & loss.  It takes courage to lead a nonprofit and not know where your salary will come from!  It takes courage to lead, it takes courage to heal.  (well others heal themselves you provide the form).

The responsibility is to have your mission enacted, not just espoused.  Phillis* points out that without leadership missions are intended but not realized.  I do all I can to consistently reflect the SCVRJP mission of peace & belonging. I frequently fall short of my “ideal self”, but I take on the responsibility as a leader to do this.  Restorative Justice work also requires a responsibility (so many that’s a different post).

The last noted similarity is taking intentions & aspirations to choices & actions*.  To enact your mission (restorative justice or other) it takes the execution of policies, activities and allocating your resources wisely.  I believe in parallel process, comparing things side by side, being congruent in who you are and what your values are.  Consider your Restorative Justice work, are you aligned?  Are your outcomes (intentions & aspirations) reflected in your decisions & behavior (choices & actions)?


*Phills, James A.. Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations.

Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Labels hurt. Restorativeness includes kindness to those that bully.

I stay away from the word “bully”.  I put in “bully behavior”.  Labels hurt people.  It’s hard to be called a name, its hard to be you, when a strong label has been applied.  My path to my views was influenced by a few things.

I would not recommend doing this.  I kept a Circle without knowing who the offender and victim were.  I was asked to help a teacher, new to Circlekeeping deal with some issues.  I was happy to show up, and demonstrate the process.  I would teach others to do more preparation, especially if the students had not been doing community building Circles.  Since the teacher was already doing Circles, and was wanting to grow his skills, I agreed to come in around the harm of upper level grade school boys and bully behavior.  This teacher had also taken the two-day training with me, so we had a great rapport and were able to have things set up prior to the Circle.

We met in the corner of the library.  The tall principal joined us on the floor, so did a guidance office staff.  I brought along my deer antler talking piece, the boys thought that one was pretty cool.  The Circle centered around “friendship” being a good friend, times someone wasn’t that good to you.  We used “friend” instead of “bully”, the classroom work was supporting being a good friend.  When a question was framed about being hurt, I was shocked and sad by the stories related.  Mom’s boyfriend throws beer cans at me, the high schoolers make fun of me from their cars.  The kids showed empathy for each other.  You could have heard a pin drop when that tall, authority figure shared a story about being excluded as a kid.  When we left that Circle, I had to check with the teacher.  The kids I thought were the victims, were in fact the ones doing the bully behavior.

That reinforced to me – responses to REAL or PERCEIVED harm include:  revenge, retaliation and restoration.   What is the harm the child is experiencing, that brings our harmful behavior.

Another Circle for 3rd grade boys, the last question asked by the victim to the offender “I just want to know why you did it”.  The answer “because in 1st grade, you got me in trouble on the bus”.  I extended our Circle a little longer to bring that in!

I don’t know anyone that raises kids with the goal “be the biggest, meanest, bully on the playground today!”  In my experience parents are extremely shamed when told their kid did the bullying.

Research shows the effects of bully behavior can be negative for the bully.  This story in Time, tells about a writer who went back to meet his bully.  It’s powerful, showing that the bully went on to continue to hurt people, to the point of murder.  It’s technically not Restorative Justice (not the specific process), it does include victim and offender, and a dialogue.  I want to connect with the author John Guenther, (email me at  He acknowledged at one point or another we have all engaged in bully behavior.  I think it’s key to not forget, we could all work at being better citizens, playground to retirement home.

Programs to address bully behavior must be comprehensive and focus on the culture and climate.  I appreciate all the work at bully-prevention and I continue to work on values-promotion.

Anything to reduce harm, must address the harm that caused it.  The only thing that mends harm is values.  If you’ve been in a training session with me, remember my slides that show the medicine wheel.  Hurt is to our physical selves, and harm is to our mental, emotional, spiritual selves.

Nancy Riestenberg shared this Safe Healthy Learners e-newsletter, some resources are Minnesota based, many are available.

Please note SCVRJP, takes contracts, I am available to train your school on Circles and Restorative Pracitices.  I also provide presentations and workshops on topics related to all things Circle and Restorative Justice.  If you would like to check a reference on my work, you can ask Nancy.


Restorative Justice Resources – Minnesota Restorative Services Coalition

I put together a quick page for today’s summit and I am sharing that here:


Talking &
Teaching RJ:


IIRP –join the list serve, data
base of articles

Restorative Justice On-line –

Power-point overview, excellent and extensive data base of articles

UK, site – Restorative Justice
videos – powerful, best practice information

Colorado group – RJ in

Illinois BARJ –     Sally Wolf, promoting restorative
practices, more Illinois, interviews:


See Harold Gatensby A Healing
River –

Youth Testimony:

“example” Radio Interview:

Dennis Maloney:


Living Justice Press


U of MN:



National Conference:,com_frontpage/Itemid,58/

Other videos:


Linda White:


Howard Zehr:


True or False?
Howard Zehr and Kris Miner quoted in Glamour Magazine?


U.K. Ministry of
Justice Report Finds Restorative Justice Conferencing Reduces Reoffending an
Average of 27 Percent, Satisfies Victims and Saves Money


Juveniles convicted
of property crimes in Northumbria, U.K. (Sherman et al., 2006)

12% recidivism after
restorative justice process used with youths

68% recidivism when
only processed through the court


Youths convicted of
public order crimes in Indianapolis (McGarrell et al., 2000)

Restorative justice
had half the recidivism rate compared to other diversion programs

Their study concluded that in
at least two trials each:

  • RJ reduced recidivism for offenders
    of both violent and property crimes.
  • RJ reduced post-traumatic stress
    symptoms and the desire for revenge for victims.
  • RJ processes were preferred over CJ
    by both victims and offenders.
  • RJ reduced costs when used as
    diversion from CJ.
  • When RJ was an option, two or more
    times as many cases were brought to justice (including cases of robbery and


(1990). Restitution
Recidivism Crime and Justice
Network Newsletter. Oct 1990 – Mar 1991. p7. Dowloaded 20 January 2005.   As Howard Zehr observes at the outset of this
article, a recurrent question about victim offender reconciliation programs
(VORP) programs raises the issue of recidivism. Do offenders who participate in VORP and
make restitution re-offend? Are re-offending or recidivism rates higher, the same, or lower for such
offenders? In response, Zehr reviews findings from a study conducted by Laurie
Ervin and Anne Schneider (found in Criminal Justice,
Restitution, and Reconciliation, ed. Burt Galaway and Joe Hudson, Criminal Justice
Press, 1990). Ervin and Schneider found that restitution programs, especially
when part of well structured VORPs, do appear to reduce recidivism rates by a measurable amount.


The national recidivism
re-arrest rate is 67.5%


The recidivism rate for the program is less
than 10 percent, compared to 30 percent with more traditional programs.

Independent research shows overwhelmingly how
effective RJ can be:   slashes
reoffending rates by up to a half over eight of ten of victims feel that
meeting their offender is a positive experience almost eight of ten would
recommend the process to others.


This contrasts with the traditional justice
system where less than one in three who become crime victims are satisfied with
how they are treated.


Prison Reform Trust’s latest report from the Out
of Trouble campaign finds that 38% of 10 to 17 year olds participating in
Northern Ireland’s restorative justice process in 2006 reoffended within a
year, compared to 71% of those sent to prison that year.