Unitive Principles

While our program takes much of its practice from traditional restorative justice models, it is grounded on the principles of unitive justice. Our programs emphasize the following:

  • An emphasis on community unification over divisive punitive models
  • An emphasis on community and self-empowerment over “top down” enforcement of rules
  • Consensual participation over forced compliance
  • Understanding of context over hasty judgement

Unlike many restorative justice programs, our organization does not adopt a traditional “victim / offender” approach to circles. We have tremendous respect for our colleagues globally who do great work with this and other models, but we have adapted our process to best meet the needs of our communities. In our experience we are better able to adopt true accountability for our actions when we discern the scope of our responsibility through careful consideration of events and their context. Unitive principles do not mean lack of accountability. Rather, they indicate that accountability will not be set externally before conferences occur. Circle participants direct their own process toward mutually-agreed upon outcomes.