Circle Experience and Services
Circle Sentencing – in our county we use Circle Sentencing as a dispositional option – rather than being placed on probation or any other sanctions imposed, the child (age 12-19) is referred to Circle to repair the harm with the Victim as well as change behavior. A stay of adjudication or continue for dismissal is entered and upon successful completion of Circle all charges are dropped.
Family & Community Circle – this Circle supports all ages. Families that have Child In Need of Protective Services cases pending are referred to Family Circle to work through the initial problems that initiated the call to child welfare, child protection, or children’s mental health and to create supports so that a petition is not needed in Court.
Circle of HOPE – this Circle provides support to those in recovery from drug/alcohol addiction. When someone enters into a treatment facility from our county, they are referred to Circle (whether criminal charges pending or not) and we travel to the treatment facility, wrap supports around the individual and begin the journey into sobriety as well as transition this person back home to the community with a safe and sober network of volunteers. This sometimes involves the victim of any offenses as part of the reparation and recovery process – making amends.
Transition Circle – this Circle is used to support youth from Yellow Medicine County who are placed out of their home whether due to delinquency, child protection, child welfare, children’s mental health, etc. Upon placement, we travel to the placement facility with family members and volunteers to create a network of support that addresses safety, unity, and transition back to the community/family. Again, this can involve the victim as part of the reparation process.
Restorative Attendance Review Board – this is a restorative review board made up of system stakeholders and families to address truancy prior to filing a petition in court. We meet together to create a plan of support for the youth and family that will help attendance improve and family conditions improve so that a petition is not needed in Court.
Parallel Protection Process – we provide facilitation for the Court for Child in Need of Protective Services cases – we facilitate with the family, supports, volunteers, and stakeholders a settlement on Court petitions outside of Court to come to agreement on settlement of child welfare, child protection, delinquency, or criminal files and the next steps/action plan to avoid a lengthy Court trial. This does at times involve the victim if amends are needed for criminal behavior.
School Circles – we have Circles in schools with youth who are at risk of placement, suspension, or treatment. We use the Circle process as a means of support – prevention.
Restoration Circle – a Circle for system stakeholders to share successes and wisdom of their work while supported by other professionals.
Volunteer Gatherings – gathering of our 80 volunteers across the county to share experiences and support one another in the Circle process.
Regional Circle Keeper Gatherings – hosting of gatherings for circle keepers in the SW region of MN to come together to share programs, ask for assistance, and co-train.
Restoring Hope – Circle Keeper’s Annual Summit – we provide a space for restorative practitioners to learn, share, and take care of self.
Using Circles to celebrate, talk, make decisions and any type of context whether in a church, home, community, school, etc.
Areas of Interest and Service
Training, facilitation of restorative process – mainly Circle, seminars, presentations, in-services, volunteer training, creating change in local government, etc.
Sharon Hendrichs is the Restorative Justice Coordinator/Department Head for the Yellow Medicine County Restorative Justice Department providing restorative services to families, victims, offenders, and individuals in recovery. Sharon graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD with degrees in psychology, Spanish, and minority studies. She began her career in Restorative Practices in 2001 and implemented the first Circle Sentencing Circle in Yellow Medicine County in 2002. Sharon has trained nationally and internationally on the use of restorative practices in communities and how to affect change within local government.