Restorative Justice Circle Model

Circle Model Process

Constructing Circles of Peace is one of the first Domestic Violence treatment and prevention programs that uses a restorative justice circle approach to reduce violent behaviors in families. Constructing Circles of Peace is an Arizona Department of Health licensed Behavioral Health Agency and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Since 2004, we have been working to make a lasting difference in the lives of those we serve. Circles of Peace now represents a model for discussion and replication across the nation.



The Circle Process is designed to create a safe space for all participants. It does so through key structural elements. Each session begins with individualized customs to mark the opening and closing of the session to designate that this space is unique. Guidelines and values for interaction are agreed upon by all participants and are incorporated throughout each session. An important element is the talking piece. It regulates the conversation and allows opportunity for reflection. Circles also have a Keeper or a facilitator. The sessions maintain confidentiality, are culturally sensitive and decision-making is made by consensus. This makes participants consider the perspectives of others and also encourage everyone to speak their opinion



Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Support Person? Do I need one?
If you are an applicant (offender) assigned to the program, or a participant (victim) who decides to participate, make sure you have a support person with you for each circle. Support people can be family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone else you feel comfortable with. Support people are in the Circle to support you, and to help keep you safe. The more support people you bring, the better the Circle will be.


What if I want to keep this matter private?
It is natural to feel anxious or embarrassed about asking people from your everyday life to participate in Circles. Circles are not about shaming anybody – they are discussions about how we can repair the harm we caused and live better lives in the future. Support People can check-up on our progress and safety, and help us as we try to live better lives.


What is the role of the community members in the Circle?
Community members bring their unique life experiences to the Circle. Community members are trained in the Circle method, and come with purpose of holding the applicant accountable for the harm he/she has caused to the wider community, as well as offering him/her support on the journey towards change.


How should I prepare for Circle?
1. Make sure you have support people willing to come to the weekly Circle.
2. Make sure you have babysitting for your children secured, if you need it. Make sure that your babysitter understands that this is a weekly commitment.
3. Begin to look at your life, and gently examine the decisions you have made, and how you might like your life to look different in the future. Unless you are told otherwise, you do not need to bring anything (other than your support person) with you to your first Circle.


What happens if I cannot make it to Circle one week?
If you are the applicant, it is very important that you make it to Circle each and every week so that you can finish the full treatment in the time required by Arizona law. If you have a time conflict and absolutely cannot make the meeting, you MUST call the office at least 24 hours in advance or your absence is deemed “unexcused” and you must pay for the session. Additionally, after three unexcused absences, you may be terminated from the program, and your file will be sent back to court.