Unitive Principles

While our program takes much of its practice from traditional restorative justice models, it is grounded on the principles of unitive justice. Our programs emphasize the following:

  • An emphasis on community unification over divisive punitive models
  • An emphasis on community and self-empowerment over “top down” enforcement of rules
  • Consensual participation over forced compliance
  • Understanding of context over hasty judgement

Unlike many restorative justice programs, our organization does not adopt a traditional “victim / offender” approach to circles. We have tremendous respect for our colleagues globally who do great work with this and other models, but we have adapted our process to best meet the needs of our communities. In our experience we are better able to adopt true accountability for our actions when we discern the scope of our responsibility through careful consideration of events and their context. Unitive principles do not mean lack of accountability. Rather, they indicate that accountability will not be set externally before conferences occur. Circle participants direct their own process toward mutually-agreed upon outcomes.

Our work is unique in that it is grounded in a practical theory that provides a road map from a punitive system to a unitive system. We use the following 12 Arcs to Unity as our guide for system change.


  1. From Rules to Values
  2. From Hierarchy to Equality
  3. From Judgment to Insight
  4. From Punishment to Mutually Beneficial Action
  5. From Control to Co-Creativity
  6. Guiding Moral Principle:   From Proportional Revenge to Lovingkindness
  7. From Separation to Connection
  8. From Distrust to Trust
  9. From Distortion to Honesty
  10. From Adversarial to Synergistic
  11. From Episode to Epicenter
  12. Worldview: From Duality to Unity