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Including the Larger Community in Pretrial Services Community Supervision: The Circles of Peace Experiment
AuthorMaley, Mary Helen
AdvisorRichardson, James T.
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This thesis is the story of the creation of a restorative justice, community based pretrial services program in Nogales, Arizona on the border of the United States and Mexico. This thesis explores the use of volunteer community members in a pretrial services program operated in a non-profit agency. The experiment was a partnership between Construyendo Circulos de Paz/Constructing Circles of Peace, known as “Circles of Peace” (CCP), a non-profit agency, and the Santa Cruz County Courts. The results of the experiment of Circles of Peace, using a restorative justice approach to pretrial services, show that the two goals of pretrial supervision are enhanced by this approach. The pretrial group had fewer failures to appear and fewer arrests during the pretrial period. Although this is a small study, the results are encouraging. As noted in this thesis, there is support in the literature for a community justice approach for this criminal justice initiative. The community members involved in this program are enthusiastic and engaged in the work of helping others. Those who benefit from the attention of the community members are encouraged to get their lives back on track, take responsibility for their actions, and avoid the criminal justice system in the future. They seem proud of their achievements in pretrial services. The judges are relieved that there is a level of monitoring that did not exist before this experiment. They appreciate the reports received from pretrial services prior to each court date and make a point of talking with the defendants about their progress or their need to improve. Another encouraging aspect of the study is the fact that the program started and developed on a budget of $8,500 and $8,000 for the first two years. In the political and financial climate of those years it would have been impossible to start a new county department or even place the program in the existing probation department. New hires were not permitted much less new or expanded departments. Not much has changed in the ability to increase government spending. It is a tribute to the Circles of Peace experiment that its Court partners have stepped up this year to expand and fund the entire program.