Restorative Justice Powerpoints Idaho Juvenile Justice Association Presentations.

It was a great conference in Idaho.  I really enjoyed seeing and learning how the state’s justice workers are embracing and utilizing Restorative Justice.  I hope the four sessions I offered were helpful.  I got some individual feedback, the sessions didn’t include evaluation forms for me to review.  I spoke to what I thought would be most helpful.  I tried to listen to the audience, asking participants to show me by a fist to five fingers (fist – little, 5 fingers a lot), their experience, amount of faciliating experience, and finally how dedicated they were to working on further implementation of Restorative Justice.

I am sharing the powerpoints here, for those that attended the sessions, and the blog post readers.  Please contact me if you have any questions, best of luck with your programming and I am happy to discuss coming and doing additional training for you!







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.

Sharing for repairing. Restorative Justice, volunteering as a storyteller.

At SCVRJP we provide a variety of different talking circle sessions and victim impact panels.  We utilize volunteers that are willing to tell their story.  Here is a flyer with details: Speakers Information.

There are two types of speaking sessions, impact panels and circles.  The impact panels are focused specifically on impaired driving.  Restorative Justice Talking Circles are held on a variety of topics, underage consumption, controlled substance, property crimes, conflict, suicide.  The storytellers are volunteers that offer their personal experience around a specific incident.

Some speakers are victims, some are community members.  Some of our speakers are former offenders.  The tragic consequences hit everyday people, from all walks of life.  At SCVRJP we support our storytellers with providing training, support, feedback.

Additional speaking tips.  We have found that people respond to hearing stories.  Research has found our brains sync up with story.  By telling your story, you can repair harm, take steps towards healing.  Find meaning in the most tragic of loss.

Restorative Justice Circles also add an extra dimension for our volunteer storytellers.  Volunteers get to hear how the story was absorbed by others.  The sharing of the story allows others to relate impacts of a similiar situation or incident.  In Circle each is student and teacher.  When you hear a story and are given opportunity to reflect on it, it becomes even more meaningful.

If you are interested in learning more about storytelling for Restorative Justice Circles or Impact Panels, please see the flyer above.  SCVRJP is hosting a storytelling orientation on May 2, from 6-8pm.  Call 715-425-1100 to register, see our website for more details or email










Restorative Justice demonstrates that using values, generates postive impacts, one after another.

I’ve heard of it and experienced it, one good deed promotes another.  I paid for coffee for the person behind me in line, before leaving the coffee shop, the barista stopped me to say it went on for a dozen people!

When we feel good, we behave better.  When we feel hurt and wounded, we see the world as a cold and harmful place.  I am to energized by the rest of the post I need to write, otherwise I would link you to articles that reinforce this concept.

The story I have to share today is pretty amazing.  We have our first offender, making his own referral/request for further restorative justice.  After participating in a Circle – an Underage Consumption Panel, the evaluation form included the request (I took out a few pieces to respect confidentiality):

I got in trouble . . . after a night of drinking.  My eyes were opened to the effects my action have on people and I would like to apologize . . . I was wondering if you could help me . . .

Here at SCVRJP we do all we can to create both an attitude and atmosphere of Restorative Justice Values.  I speak with volunteers about being inclusive, helpful, equal with all participants and people we come in contact with.  When you volunteer here, you are part of our family, you are representing SCVRJP and the values and mission of our agency.  We focus on the first step of accountability is to acknowledge you caused the harm.  Taking responsibility for our choices, means we are going to empower ourselves to the lesson of growth, discovery and change.  Isn’t that the basis of what life is about?

When Restorative Justice “works” we have repaired harm, we have helped people grow.  We use evidence-based measures, satisfaction scales, re-offending rates, studies to be in a world of competing programs, grant funding and criminal justice alternatives.  Sometimes we just have to depend on “knowing”.  I know this stuff makes sense.  It resonates with who I am as a person, to be doing this work.  I’m committed on a grand scale to bringing all the Restorative Justice I can to the world.  Then I come in and find an evaluation form on my desk, with a comment like the one above.  I didn’t keep the Circle that promoted this.  I wasn’t in the building or in town.  This is the work of SCVRJP.  We opened a door, he passed through it and now wants to do more with his new knowledge.

Often times our evaluations include comments about our program being “eye-opening”.  Today I am thinking about our eyes being the windows to our soul.  In Restorative Justice – we are viewing people holistically to promote whole-ness.  We look at people and mind, body, heart & soul – or mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.  Values, relationship values are the things that help us mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  When people reveal connections to their own inner strength and wisdom, by using these values, others are prompted to do the same.  The example: today’s story.  Our keeper, the volunteer storytellers, the supportive community members, they create the demonstration of these values.

I’m gonna be smiling today, SCVRJP provided a court-ordered service and somebody said “can I get some more of that?”

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program – planned sessions for 2012

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program in River Falls, WI provides a range of Restorative Justice Services for our community.  Click here for look at 2012: SCVRJP 2012 color calendar.

Locally, SCVRJP addresses public health concerns like teen driving, underage consumption, controlled substance use – by offering Circle sessions.  SCVRJP also offers Victim Impact Panels, for those earning driving privlidges after a conviction for drinking and driving.  Trained volunteers offer stories during sessions, community volunteers offer Restorative Justice, by participating in non-judgemental, supportive services where the impact of choices is shared by experience.  The session descriptions: 2011 sessions.

SCVRJP also provides Restorative Response – which is a program that offers support to those impacted by suicide and sudden, traumatic loss.  SCVRJP, is the lead agency working to provide informal support services for survivors and distributes the Grieving Families Guide.

Trainings are available at our River Falls location or on a contracted basis.  Training can be provided on Restorative Justice, Restorative Justice Circles, School-based Restorative Justice, Classroom Circles or topics needed by your agency.  Contact Kris Miner at SCVRJP, email: or 715-425-1100.

SCVRJP relies on donations, service fees and grants.  Your support is appreciated.  There is one annual fundraiser, the WALK for AWARENESS, scheduled for July 28, 2012.

New volunteers are welcome!  Please contact us if you are interested in joining our team!

Final reflections in Circle, the juicy fruit! Relationships juicy fruit, not the gum.

I don’t mean juicy fruit gum, I mean the fruit that you get, because you planted some seeds.  A Circle is an amazing event.  I LOVE the process.  I start it the moment people enter the Restorative Justice Center, “Hi, I’m Kris” with a handshake and a smile.  I get people introduced to any volunteers around me.  We have a plan for name tags, pre-session survey, sitting in Circle and a video playing while we gather.

I am usually monitoring the seating, getting the community volunteer name tags on seats between the participants, offering a bottle of water.  This is how all Circles at St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice get started, this is the planting of the seeds.

We use the four stages of Circle (frequent posts here), always, always, always use values to center our conversation, commit to how we will relate to one another.  We have questions to speak about ourselves as people, then we move to the Circle topic or have a speaker share.  Reflections and contributions by everyone.  Imagine a plant growing on a time delay camera, or a film fast forwarding.  Lots happens here-zipppppppp, time goes.

Here we are at the end of the Circle, a powerful story has been shared, people have made public commitments about a change of behavior.  It’s the last pass of the talking piece, it’s a final chance to say anything else you need to say to leave in peace.

This is my juicy fruit moment.  This is when I feel the Love, created in Circle.  This is when the transition from who people were, when they walked in, to who they are now, preparing to leave.  Community volunteers reflect that they came to help and feel helped.  A young participant thanks the community volunteers, because they “didn’t HAVE to be here”.  The storyteller is often acknowledged again.  People know deep work has been done.  Sometimes, very little is said in this pass because it has all been said before.  That’s okay too, because then I know what we needed to speak was said.

What makes that fruit so tasty? For me, it’s having people be more, than they expected they would be.  When a person reflects on how much they opened up, and confessed they hadn’t planned to say anything, I smile, and look to the center.  The center is the same in all of us.  We want to belong, we want to connect.  Shaping people around a center and asking them to center themselves to the values creates a pathway to the heart.

These heart connections, connect up and in that strength we find ways to make changes in ourselves.  Our attitudes about whatever brought us to Circle (teen driving, underage drinking, property crime, disorderly conduct) changes.  It changes because we can see that we have changed and others have changed as a result of the Circle.  Change creates change.  Once you have awareness, you can’t become “unaware”.  That’s the part of the experience that holds that juicy fruit!  As a Circle keeper and practitioner, your job is to take that fruit, and hand it off to others, so they plant seeds somewhere else.

Have yourself a piece of Juicy Fruit for the next Circle.  According to this blog, Juicy Fruit was the first package to have a Bar Code!


Upcoming Conference on Kids, Courts and Schools – presenting a session: Kris Miner

The link will provide you the conference brochure and registration forms.

Kids, Courts & Schools September 29

I’m really excited about the pre-conference workshop for Judges, that will be promoting the use of Restorative Justice Circles!  I get to promote using community members as storytellers!  I will be writing a workbook to accompany the training and I plan to offer it on this site, so check back in October!

Corporate world, workplace discrimination responses mirror Restorative Justice.

Today is the day.  I knew studying for my PhD would weave into the blog.  Here it is a post with a reference.  I held out for over 3 months, I didn’t want to change the “voice” of Circlespace.  However, I ran into something to good, to not share.

I was reading TARGET PRACTICE: AN ORGANIZATIONAL IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT APPROACH TO ATTRACTING MINORITY AND FEMALE JOB APPLICANTS.  The article was speaking about how companies/corporations can use 6 tactics to restore a damaged reputation.  The first of those 6, is “accounts”, there are then 4 ways to respond to accounts.  The options are 1) Denial, 2) Excuses, 3) Justification and 4) Apology.  The article said that the most common, is denial.  Acknowledging is more favorably received and apologies and explanations work to re-establish cooperation and promote (improve) positive reactions.

My restorative justice bells and whistles went off!

How often do people who have caused harm try “it wasn’t me”, or “I didn’t do it”.  Our legal system promotes a not-guilty plea as part of the process.  I believe the fear of getting in trouble, trumps telling the truth.  If you don’t feel safe enough, or your fear of the punishment is too great, you aren’t likely to even acknowledge a mistake, let alone a harm.  Not acknowledging, is the same as denial.  Intentional or unintentional, denial is denial in the eyes of others. 

The next two responses Excuses & Justification – are things a restorative practioner works on with the party that has caused harm.  You want to make sure that you hear, what, how and why the excuses and justification developed.  A good restorative justice practitioner can dig into the situation, explore the beginning the middle and the end.  You have to come from a mindset that all behavior has purpose, and what was the purpose of the behavior.  You carefully hold non-judgement on this information.  Once heard people can usually go to the next step, and the next step is the first step of restorative justice accountability: Acknowledging you caused the harm.

I believe people find justifications for behavior.  Once you get at the underlying “justification” you can help people change their lives.  Here is an example and how SCVRJP uses Circles to change behavior. 

Justification:  All college students drink hard, I’m no different than anyone else.

Reality:  Over consumption can have serious risks/harms to self, family, society. 

Demonstrated change:  95% said the session would reduce exposure to risk of alcohol (5% said probably not, 70% said definitely, 25% said maybe)

90% said they would change (60% definitely, 30% maybe) and those that reported the session would “probably not” change behavior: 10% .

Restorative Justice Circles create a safe place to acknowledge harm.  It does help that those attended , have been sent to us by the courts, it is kind of hard to deny something after that process.  The use of community members, storytelling and real life examples hits the heart and promotes change.  You can’t argue with an experience.

Perhaps more companies will step towards workplace restorative justice, so people can get to more productive and healthy environments.  Handling “accounts” with denial, excuses & justifications aren’t the only options.  (I left out apology on purpose, since it is not a primary focus of RJ).   If  Restorative Justice can promote change for underage drinkers, I think it can restore corporate world reputation issues.



Circles include earned and learned wisdom, formal and informal support.

There are two ways we get smart about things – we experience it or we take someone else’s story and decide to do it, or not do it.

When we are seating in Restorative Justice Circles, we take time to listen.  We listen like sponges.  It just happens that way.  The values have been determined and used as our “way” of relating to each other.  We speak one at a time, we share perspective by perspective.  Just as each second on a clock happens from a different place, so do the stories shared in Circle.  Just as the commonality of time passing happens with each second that clicks off a clock, the stories have a commonality of being human.

Teaching people to listen without judgement is crucial to a Circle.  Giving people the permission, to not have to react to what is being said helps.  The communication loop is person-to-center, instead of person-to-person.  We observe the loop or relationship a person is sharing.  Without judgement we “hear” that person’s earned experience.

Once you “earn” your paycheck you have it.  You “earn” your experience.  Just like you can blow that paycheck, have it be gone with no investment in the future, you can blow your experience and not invest it in the future.

Talking about our “earned” experiences in front of each other allows others to learn from them.

One of our volunteers relates his life that includes going in and out of prison.  Being high a week after being out.  How crime was needed to fuel the need for more drugs.  This story is shared as part of a larger program addressing controlled substance use.  It works.

It works, because we care.  We listen first and teach second.  We let the person in the session be heard and participate in Circle.  We all add a value to the Center.  We all hold the potential to add value to our communities.  Restorative Justice does this like nothing else I have ever experienced.

Formal support comes from people paid to do what they do.  Informal support is people who act because they care.  Think about that from your pizza delivery and the friend that made you soup.  The airport shuttle ride or the friend that gives you a lift.  Formal support is a therapist, informal support is a great conversation with a close friend.

We all know someone who can be a great therapist, hair stylist or store clerk, because they care.  It’s kind of like that with SCVRJP, and I hope all restorative justice programs.  The use of volunteers, bring in people just cause they care.  As a non-profit, we are less funded (more like a friend, not getting paid for that ride to the airport).  We address the areas that the community needs, vs what the government decides we need.

I’ve read that you need both good formal support and strong informal support to reduce symptoms of PTSD.  I always to apply what I read in academic research to my life.  Makes sense to me, fits for the times in my life I struggled.

We are relationship creatures.  I so appreciate that restorative justice can bring our relationship to our experiences to others.  Restorative Justice also brings relationships to people formally or informally, and that just helps us all grow.

Silly builds self-confidence, leaders need to learn how to get others to be a little silly.

Acting a little goofy, comes naturally to me.  I like to make people laugh.  I’m not afraid to tell really bad jokes.  The kinds that get a sarcastic or half-hearted courtesy laugh.  When I train a group or start a circle I sometimes throw out a one-liner or bad joke and it really breaks the ice.  There is both risk and vulnerability in this.  Leadership takes being both risky and vulnerable.

In the getting acquainted stage of a restorative justice circle, I will sometimes point out we are going to talk about the silly before the serious.  Last night I asked the Circle what “superhero” would you be, or what “superpower” would you most want.  Some chuckles and valid points:  “Batman, cause he’s right up there with everyone else and doesn’t actually have a super-power”.   People decades apart in age both picked “Spiderman” for the ability to swing between buildings.  This really does serve as an ice-breaker and practice talking piece skill-set.

I always end Circles allowing a reflection on the experience itself and making sure people know that they needed to “say anything they need to leave in peace”.  One reflection was about that “silly” round and how much it really breaks the ice.  I was given positive feedback for how I lead the Circle and how it really works to build trust quickly.

It was a particularly open session, participants shared honestly and I know this, because some of the sharing revealed painful backgrounds and experiences.  We tend to exagerrate the positive when we lie, or avoid hurting others.  What was revealed were items that might be shaming in any other context.  The average person doesn’t lie about things like that.

Other reflections at the end of circle included that participants expected to pass and did not.  I immediately thought of the value of the first two stages of the Circle – getting acquainted and building relationships.  A reminder again the importance of balancing the process when facilitating a Circle.

Being a leader is about others.  Being a leader is being yourself and being mindful of being a role model.  Holding yourself gracefully, while being a little silly, shows you are real.  You can trust real and genuine, even if it is a little silly it is still trustworthy.

Why did Cinderella get kicked off the basketball team?

She kept running away from the ball.