Aboriginal circle sentencing Essay

Being part of a community, one succumbs to the norms and social values set within the existing ‘insiders’ perspective of its own members. Unwritten rules are established unconsciously and from herein, the community members organize themselves in an implicit agreement with each member. This kind of community organization, which operates within the Indigenous people’s culture, is a kind of organization that is based on common knowledge and shared understanding of their own beliefs and values.

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It is because of this common knowledge and shared understanding that the Indigenous elders’ role in circle sentencing becomes not only agreeable but more appropriate than placing the Indigenous peoples under the judicial system that is based on the perspective of an ‘outsider’ or someone with a worldview different from that of the members of the community.

Difference in culture, particularly one’s world view, is an important factor in deciding whether the circle-sentencing is a better system than the traditional justice system or not. The traditional justice system that we know was created or designed based on the worldview of the majority, but more specifically by those few people with authority that is meant to represent the majority. The idea then of what crimes deserve punishments of such degree is negotiated based on their own beliefs and understanding of how things work within the larger community. However, these things they have decided, although it has undergone detailed deliberations between people of power may not hold true for the people who belonged to a different community who has their own idea of what is punishable by law and what is not.

The traditional judicial system for example may see theft as a big offence whereas in some cultures, it may appear to be a forgivable case. If we are going to look at things this way, then the indigenous role in circle-sentencing will be a more adaptive system for the Indigenous people. Because they were reprimanded based on their elder’s decision with whom they shared common knowledge rather than trying to conform to a set of rules they don’t personally understand, they become more knowledgeable of the intensity of the crime they have committed. This knowledge then will give them an understanding on why they were given such punishments and this understanding will be the key for them not to repeat the crime they have committed – an outcome that is clearly evident with the decline of the re-offending rates among aboriginal offenders.

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