Freedom Project: Nonviolent communication and mindfulness training in prison
from the article by Alejandra Suarez, et.al:
...Compassionate social communication can be taught according to the concept of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), originated by Marshall Rosenberg (1999), which involves noticing others’ behaviors, examining the accompanying feelings, making requests, and acknowledging the needs that have been met/unmet. In this way, during conflicts, there is no blame or fault assigned to either party. NVC has been extensively used to train educators, managers, mental health care providers, gangs, lawyers, military officers, clergy, government officials, individuals, and families (Rosenberg, 2003); it has also been used to train prisoners in the United States and other countries (Niebuhr, 2001). Correctional facilities in Washington (Freedom Project, 2009), Oregon (Center for Compassionate Living, 2012), California (Bay Nonviolent Communication, 2008), British Columbia, Denmark, and Sweden (Bryson, 2000) have maintained their support and use of NVC for many years There is a small but growing body of academic literature, including research, surrounding the efficacy and implications of using NVC within various contexts and settings (Branscomb, 2011; Cox & Dannahy, 2005; Dougan, 2011; Fullerton, 2009; Hulley, 2006; R. Jones, 2005; S. Jones, 2009; Nonviolent Communication Experimental Project, 1999; Savic, 2005; Steckal, 1994; Young, 2011).
Implementing restorative justice in prison design
from the article on Arch Daily:
A recent topic that has been receiving attention among architects is the issue of designing prisons. The increased awareness of the problem has been spearheaded by Raphael Sperry, founder of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, who has been campaigning to have the AIA forbid members from designing execution chambers or solitary confinement units. At the other end of the scale, Deanna VanBuren, a principle of FOURM Design Studio and a member of ADPSR herself, has championed ‘restorative justice’, an approach to incarceration and the justice system which emphasizes rehabilitation in order to prevent people from re-offending.
Lost Dog Restorative Justice provides a positive vision
In order to rescue more dogs from being put to sleep, we are in need of more foster homes. The Roxbury Correctional Institution (RCI) in Hagerstown, Maryland is working with the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation to implement a Restorative Justice Program. Utilizing the prison system and appropriate inmates to serve as foster caregivers can greatly increase our capacity to rescue dogs from the threat of euthanasia.
An outcome evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative
To evaluate the effectiveness of the InnerChange program for male inmates at MCFLino Lakes, the DOC examined recidivism outcomes among 732 offenders released from prison between 2003 and 2009. There were 366 offenders who participated in InnerChange, had their recidivism risk assessed, and had been released from prison during the 2003-2009 period. Offenders whose recidivism risk had been assessed and had been released during the 2003-2009 period, but did not participate in InnerChange, were matched to those in the InnerChange group on commonly-known risk factors.
Multivariate statistical analyses were performed to further control for other factors besides InnerChange participation that may have had an impact on recidivism. These measures were used to ensure that any observed differences in recidivism between the 366 InnerChange participants and the 366 offenders in the comparison group were due strictly to participation in InnerChange.
Murderers turned peacemakers
How is it that women, with dark pasts, serving time for murder and manslaughter, could possibly become honored peacemakers?
Their story is one of personal commitment to themselves and the community in which most are destined to live out their lives. “This is an environment filled with conflict and violence. There is a dire need and want for change,” says Susan Russo, one of the fifteen initial peacemakers, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the largest prison for women in the world, Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, CA. “Mediation interests all of us because we are lifers and long-termers hoping to make a difference in teaching our peers that there is a better way.”
Beginning her quest in 2007, Sue Russo wrote over 50 handwritten letters from prison to mediators all over California. Her letters went unanswered until August of 2009 when one of her letters made it to me, Laurel Kaufer, Esq., a Southern California mediator and peacemaker and founder of the post-Katrina Mississippi Mediation Project.
Sycamore Tree: Week 3
A week with huge expectations: we have three visitors coming with us. Ann (not her real name) a young lady, victim of a robbery, whose car was violently attacked while she was in it and whose bags were stolen and Ray and Vi, whose son Christopher was murdered by a gang of violent youths high on alcohol and drugs. Ann and Ray and Vi are effectively surrogate victims for the men - a taster, in a group, of the experience of a victim – offender conference or mediation.
Give prisoners the chance to help the community
"I want to be out there, helping people," says one prisoner in the report, who could have been speaking for many of those I met while serving my own 20 years of prison time.
....Probably the best such experience was when I joined the Braille Unit in my first long-term high security prison. The 12 of us who worked in the unit had all been convicted of murder and for most of us it was first time in our lives that we had experienced the satisfaction that can be gained from helping other people. The prison held more than 700 of the most serious offenders in the country, but the only official opportunity for any of us to put something back into the outside community that we had harmed so badly were those 12 places in the Braille Unit.
Victim impact programming in corrections: A team approach to reducing recidivism
from the note by Verna Wyatt in The Wall:
At first glance, it might seem counter-intuitive for victim advocates to work with inmates. However, the truth is, victim advocates and corrections professionals are not adversaries. We actually share a common goal: “no more victims.” Conducting Victim Impact classes for the incarcerated is a team approach to preventing victimization. There have been several studies looking at the effectiveness of victim impact programs across the country. A Iowa Department of Correction report, using two evidence-based studies, concluded victim impact is a contributing factor in reducing recidivism.
[You Have the Power (YHTP)] developed our own Victim Impact Curriculum based on our experience as victim advocates. We’ve learned from our class participants that the majority of offenders never think about their victim as a human being. Many never even think about their victim at all. One of our offender participants told us, “I’ve been incarcerated for over twenty years, and I never once thought about my victim until this class.”
Restorative justice and the challenge of prison reform
Crucially, prisoners have to learn to accept responsibility for the harm their criminal activities have caused to individual victims, family and neighbourhood. This largely transformative component is implemented at the beginning of any given prison sentence and is maintained throughout the term of custody.
....Wherever practical and possible, prisoners are made responsible for any financial compensation owed to victims. To this end, a restoration fund may be established and prisoners able to earn money in order to pay victim compensation. This encourages a degree of responsibility in prisoners whilst providing reparation for victims.
Restorative justice for people who are innocent & wrongfully imprisoned
from Lorenn Walker's blog:
Recently, I saw how successfully RJ was used by someone who has steadfastly maintained innocence, and who does not take responsibility for the crimes she is in prison for.
The woman is serving several life sentences for crimes that she has denied since being convicted after a trial about 20 years ago. She was 18 when she went into prison and she has not seen two of her now adult children since then. Most of her children want a relationship with her and she wants one with them. The woman learned about restorative justice in a course we provide* in the prison, and she used an RJ process to focus how she could restore her relationship with her children, and address the harm caused them and herself, by her teenage drug use and her imprisonment.