Ottawa County Juvenile Justice Institute


August 7, 2013
Graduates of the Juvenile Justice Institute who participated in the Shakespeare Beyond Bars program.
L to R: Malik – rapper, Abbie – visual artist, Antonia – poet and singer, Sarina – writer (personal memoir)


Restorative Circle of Reconciliation (RCR)

Developed over a life-time of building successful artistic circles of community within the professional, as well as educational theatre settings, Shakespeare Behind Bars founder, Curt L. Tofteland, has honed his varied experiences into building transformational circles.  By constructing a set of ‘values’ shared by the circle members rather than ‘rules’ imposed by a leader, Curt creates circles of trust which allow participants to plumb the deepest depths of their life experience to recover what it means to be a human being.

Each day, circle members consciously choose to live into life’s four questions . . .

1.  Who am I?
2. What do I love?
3. How will I live my life knowing I will die?
4. What is my gift to human-kind?

Applying the healing process of a Restorative Circle of Reconciliation within the correctional world of incarceration and post-incarceration, Curt uses Art, Theatre, and the works of William Shakespeare, to immerse juvenile offenders in the transformational journey of exploring who they were when they committed their crimes, to who they are in the present moment, to who they wish to become.  Through this healing process of self-examination, juvenile offenders assemble the tools they need to evolve into agents of change not only for themselves but also as potential leaders within the communities they inhabit while under court order, as well as the communities they will inhabit upon their release.

In November 2012, SBB Founder, Curt L. Tofteland, founded the co-gender, court-ordered juvenile offender Shakespeare Behind Bars Juvenile Justice/MI program at the . . .

Ottawa County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC)

and the co-gender, court-ordered juvenile offender Shakespeare Beyond Bars Juvenile Justice/MI program at the . . .. . .

Ottawa County Juvenile Justice Institute (JJI)

  • Partnership with Ottawa Area Intermediate School District
  • Court ordered school
  • Year round, nontraditional
  • Ages 13 – 17
  • Maximum enrollment 25
  • Juveniles who are expelled or have significant school-related problems
  • Staffed by OAISD certified teachers and aides

Twice per week, Curt meets at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) and the Juvenile Justice Institute (JJI) to work with juvenile offenders who choose to be participating members of SBB circle.

With certain juvenile offenders, there is fluidity at which institution – JDC or JJI –  they are serving at any given moment during their court-ordered classification.  Thus, by facilitating SBB Juvenile circles at both JDC and JJI, each juvenile offender is offered the opportunity to continue their transformational work no matter which institution they are assigned.