Who We Are
Washington County Community Circles, Inc. (WCCC, Inc.)
Community Circles, also known as Peacemaking Circles, are a community-directed process most commonly used for addressing issues surrounding local incidents of crime and conflict. Sentencing Circles in Washington County are created in partnership with the justice system, and create a respectful space to support victims, develop sentences with and for clients, and empower all interested community members to work toward preventing future occurrences of conflict.
Cases brought to the Circle process go through several steps, including an application procedure that includes an application and Application Circle where the potential client meets community members and participates in a Circle to discuss what they hope to gain through the Circle process. There can be separate Circles for victims and offenders, a Sentencing Circle to develop offender sentencing recommendations to be submitted to judges, and follow-up Circles to monitor the progress of offenders or to continue to support victims.
Circles derive their strength from community participation, and are facilitated by trained volunteers called Keepers. Keepers pass a talking piece to share speaking time in Circles. Strong community support results in lower recidivism of offenders who go through the Circles process.
Community Circles have at times served communities by providing a forum for the discussion of difficult community issues, and helped facilitate action plans or dispute resolution. Examples of these include Circles with feuding family members to create understanding, Circles with local church members to resolve internal conflicts, and Circles with married couples to improve their communication.
Circles enhance community health by teaching all participants how to resolve conflicts in a manner where communities develop collective responsibility and assume ownership for making decisions regarding their own issues.