Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika: Alice Ophelia Hyman Lynch

Circles create a sacred space that lifts barriers between people, opening possibilities for collaboration and understanding. Circles provide a safe place to have the difficult conversations.

— Alice Ophelia Hyman Lynch

Alice Ophelia Hyman Lynch (born 1950) is Executive Director of Black, Indian, Hispanic and Asian Women in Action (Biha). She has conducted over 1000 trainings on domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, chemical dependency, and HIV/AIDS, looking specifically at how these issues impact communities of color. Since 1997, Alice has worked to establish restorative justice programs in her own community and across the nation. Through this process she has helped empower communities to take the lead in solving their problems in ways that promote healing and prevent future harm.

The chairs form a circle in the community center in North Minneapolis. Neighbors have gathered. The focus turns to Marcus, a young man who has just completed a seven-year prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter. Now Marcus has an apartment, a job, and is attending college. Still, he wants to do more to make things right with the family whose loved ones he killed. In this hard time, Marcus is not alone. The circle offers support and is a constant in what has been a chaotic life. He knows that, no matter what, the circle is there for him. In 1997, while serving on the Minnesota Department of Corrections Restorative Justice Initiative Advisory Council, Alice developed a deep appreciation for the process of restorative justice in which communities, working with criminal justice professionals, take the lead in addressing their own problems. One component of restorative justice is the circle: within the circle people speak from the heart in a shared search for understanding, and together identify steps necessary for healing and preventing future harm. It was such a circle that gave Marcus the support he needed to make a successful transition from prison back into the community. Alice speaks of the process: "The idea that the community was making decisions for itself on how to handle harm done was something that got my attention immediately because I could see the possibilities. I was interested in providing circles of support to individuals and families, particularly juvenile offenders. Many of the women I worked with had youth in the criminal justice system and I felt that this was a way to give them a new start." Alice integrates her work with restorative justice into a life dedicated to nonviolence and the empowerment of women.

Black, Indian, Hispanic and Asian Women in Action Women of Color Network on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Women's Action for New Directions (Wand)