Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth

Bringing Justice Home

By Carolyn Boyes-Watson
With foreword by the Rev. Dr. Martin Brokenleg

Living Justice PressSoftcover, 296 pp., indexed, photos throughout, ISBN  978-0-9721886-4-7,  publication 2008



Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth: Bringing Justice Home, by Dr. Carolyn Boyes-Watson (the director of the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University) explores how the Circle process is being used by a remarkably innovative youth center outside Boston.  Nearly twenty years in operation, Roca, Inc., works with immigrant, gang, and street youth.  Using Circles extensively, not only with youth but also with the families and community as well as throughout the organization, is integral to Roca’s effectiveness.”Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth” tells a compelling and inspiring story for any organization or person who works with young people, particularly troubled youth who desperately need community-based support to change the trajectory of their lives.

Reviews and Comments

“Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth illustrates the power of Circles in a unique environment. It tells the story of a youth development program, known as ROCA, that serves high risk young people in one of the most dense, impoverished, ethnically diverse and troubled communities in the U.S. Roca uses Circles as an essential, democratic, decision-making process as well as a respectful and powerful way of communicating. At Roca, Circles are a way of being, grounded in a restorative justice and youth development philosophy and practice. They are aimed ultimately at building new communities [in the sense of MLK’s Beloved Community ] both inside the Roca community and in Chelsea neighborhoods. Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth suggests how Circles could transform communities broadly including schools, neighborhoods, residential facilities, and, as Boyes-Watson shows, even the social services systems charged with assisting them.”

Gordon Bazemore, author of Juvenile Justice Reform and Restorative Justice and Restorative Juvenile Justice and chair of the Dept. of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University

“This story of the application of Circle process and restorative principles to a youth serving organization provides an excellent example of what you do after you find a talking piece. By adding the Circle process to their best youth development practices, Roca started making community, not just connecting to it. Roca’s story has insights for schools, adult serving agencies, businesses, block clubs, and the faith community. Carolyn tells this story with the eye of a participant: each observation and each anecdote is as fresh as last night’s Circle.”

Nancy Riestenberg, Prevention specialist,
Minnesota School Safety Center/
Minnesota Department of Education

“I am thrilled to see this book come to print. Everywhere I do Circle training with people working with youth, I see a need for this book. The deeply moving work with youth at ROCA and Carolyn’s profound capacity for observation and reflection offer inspiration, wisdom, and hope that as a society we can do better for our young people than we have been doing. In the process of making space for healing our youth, we will heal ourselves.”

Kay Pranis, Circle trainer, coauthor of Peacemaking Circles: From Conflict to Community

“‘How can we live in a good way with each other?’ This question is addressed by Roca, a community organization in Chelsea, ‘one of the most broken and dangerous neighborhoods near Boston,’ where residents of many ethnicities are mired in poverty. —In Youth Today, November, 2008

Review: In Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Vol. 8 #1, Jan. 2010, reviewed by Judah Schept

Review: Tribal College Journal, Volume 21, No. 2, Winter 2009, reviewed by Michael Thompson

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