We developed Accountability Circles as a practice for youth who are referred to our agency, either by juvenile probation or schools, for a restorative conference process, but who would benefit from additional support to fully engage with this process.
These weekly two-hour circles are an opportunity for youth to reflectively examine their life choices and make decisions about how they would like to guide their own future. By exploring a range of relevant topics, such as empathy, respect, making things right, critical values, decision-making, and many more, youth are invited into taking responsibility for being the writer of their own story.
Additionally, the accountability circles serve to prepare youth for their restorative conference and support them in completing their restorative action plan.
After the youth’s conference, they continue to receive support in their weekly circle until they have completed the restorative action plan that was agreed upon at their conference.
By the conclusion of the process, the hope is that participating youth will move away behaviors that result in harm, and become agents of positive change in their community.
This practice has proven to be highly effective for those youth who need time to become ready for the restorative process in order to take advantage of a healing and learning process rather than usual punitive measures delivered at school and/or in the juvenile justice system.