Sentencing circles are an alternative to a sentencing hearing. It is a community-based process where community members try to agree on an appropriate sentence that everyone is satisfied with.
The sentencing circle includes the accused, an elder, judge, Crown, and lawyer. The circle might also include an Indigenous court worker, police or court officers, and members of the accused’s family, and the victim and their family.
Sentencing circles vary in structure and process but are generally based on restorative justice principles. This means that instead of punishing the accused, sentencing circles try to help the accused heal their relationship with the victim and with the community.
Sentencing circles are usually not available for people facing sentences that are longer than two years.