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Restorative Justice Circles and the Community Member’s Role

Wondering what a Community Member does in a Restorative Justice Community Group Conference? Or, for that matter, what Restorative Justice Community Group Conferencing is exactly? We’ve got some answers!


What is Community Group Conferencing? 

At the Conflict Center, in partnership with the Denver DA’s office called Restorative Denver, we facilitate Community Group Conferences (CGC), as part of an alternative process to the criminal justice system when someone commits a crime.  A person who has caused harm can repair the damage they have done by claiming responsibility for their actions, fulfilling a plan to make amends, and reconnecting to the community they impacted. We use the 5 R’s of Restorative Justice in our approach.

Participation in the Community Group Conferencing model is completely voluntary. If they decide to participate in the CGC, they must take responsibility for their actions.  During the circle process, the person who caused harm and the person who was harmed have the opportunity to talk about the incident and to work together to create a contract designed to repair the harm done to both the harmed person and the community. The completion of the contract created during the Community Group conference results in no criminal record of the incident for the person who caused harm. 


Community Group Conferencing aims to:

  • Repair harm to the community and the person/s harmed. 
  • Give the person who was harmed a full voice.
  • Create a contract that offers the offender creative opportunities for growth, increased self-worth, and reintegration into the community.
  • Empower the offender to make better choices in the future.
  • Create new and stronger relationships in community.
  • Enhance empathy and understanding among participants.
  • Increase the capacity of the community to solve problems.

So, what’s the Community Member’s role?

In order for the process to be successful, we not only need facilitators, the person who caused harm, the person who was harmed, and individuals who support them to participate. That’s where you come in. 

Community Members have a unique opportunity to represent the voice of the community at the conference. As people who are not too close to the situation, Community Members can sometimes see things others cannot. They help to identify the harm that was done and discover ways that the offender can repair the harm. Community members think about broad areas of impact on the community, from physical to financial to emotional and use facts, feelings, and experiences to communicate that impact to the person who caused harm.

At each Community Group Conference, there are usually two Community Members. The process typically lasts between 2-4 hours. When it is complete, participants are invited to a post-conference to celebrate the success of the process.To learn more about the Community Member role, please read the entire role description


Interested in becoming a Community Member? 

We are currently looking for Community Members to join our Restorative Denver Program! If you are interested, please apply through our online application. In addition, we ask that you attend the mandatory Community Member Training which are offered regularly at The Conflict Center.