Art helps heal crime's wounds
I admit it. Sometimes I have Philly envy. Philadelphia has a Mural Arts Program, and the community in which I live does not.
....I have been drawn to the arts as a way of reframing the challenges of crime and trauma. The arts can engage the whole person to express or understand the harm done and help harness heart and intelligence to reduce isolation. The arts can provide a way to explore what can be done to give back, and to give voice to the full range of human experience. The act of creation can restore a sense of meaning and agency to those who harmed and those who have been harmed.
Chickens and chats form basis of new prison life
from the entry on This is Cornwall:
...."It may sound gimmicky, because this is supposed to be a prison and a place of punishment, but the people I'm charged with looking after are some of the most troubled and troublesome members of society," he said. "Their individual backgrounds are horrendous in terms of not having a father figure, and a lack of education and the opportunities that you and I experienced."
Through treating prisoners with "decency" and giving back a sense of respect, staff are already seeing a drop in incidents of bullying and drug abuse. A large number of prisoners have volunteered to sign up to a scheme to donate a small weekly sum to the Victim Support Service.
A view from behind bars: School of Theology and Ministry exhibition showcases artwork by American prisoners
from the article in The Boston College Chronicle:
An exhibition of more than 40 works of art that depict images of grief and hope created by men imprisoned in American jails and penitentiaries will open at the School of Theology and Ministry on March 15.
“Seeing the Man: Art From Behind Bars, A Vision of Restorative Justice and Healing” will be on display through April 30 in the Atrium Gallery of the STM Library, located at 117 Lake Street on Brighton Campus. The works of art are provided by Do-Right Ministries, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the American justice system and promotes healing through art.
Restorative justice provides new path for prisoners
....This is no television prison. There is no guard or glass wall. There are no handcuffs or restraints, just a couple of cameras and a conversation. A conversation about where they came from, why they’re here, but most importantly a conversation about where they’re going. It’s a path with few options.
“On the other side of that door, it’s either hell or redemption,” Baumgardner says. “You choose.”
“That door” leads to the bowels of Jefferson City Correctional Center, a maximum security prison. Starr, Baumgardner and King have all chosen the latter path. Hell is what got them here. Restorative Justice offers them a chance to change that.
Increasing restitution for crime victims: A toolkit
The National Center for Victims of Crime recently released a “Restitution Toolkit,” which provides state agencies and external organizations information on instituting or furthering restitution opportunities for crime victims. The information is in-depth and comprehensive, including:
Missouri prisons grow 50 tons of food for pantries
from the article on stltoday.com:
Missouri prisoners have raised more than 50 tons of vegetables and fruit that have been given to food pantries around the state.
The Department of Corrections says this year's harvest was significantly higher than last year's, when the agency donated 29 tons of produce through its Restorative Justice Garden Program.
Under the program, the seeds and plants are donated to the Corrections Department, which then donates all the resulting food to local pantries.
Victims' advocate says more energy should be invested in restitution programs
Justice systems in the North should invest more energy in developing restitution processes that work, according to a leading Canadian victims’ advocate.
Irvin Waller, a professor at the University of Ottawa and the president of the International Organization for Victim Assistance, was a speaker at Justice for All: A Comparison of the Crime Victims’ Rights in the U.S. and Canada, put on by the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice section this morning.
“We know from the social science evidence that well-organized restorative justice, which includes restitution payments, not only increases victim satisfaction compared to the normal process, but secondly actually reduces recidivism,” Waller said. “There is a real opening here. It’s win-win all around for justice at times of austerity.”
Giving back: RCI’s Restorative Justice Program helps inmates help others
On a recent Friday morning, 13 inmates at the Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant diligently worked on their needlework, their nimble fingers pulling together tiny stitches or weaves. The fruits of their toil lay strewn about the tables: a Mickey Mouse look-alike, a doll, random bears and other stuffed animals, as well as scarves, hats and more slowly took shape.
Those bears and lamb pillows have made their way into little hands around the community, and those mittens and gloves will keep others warm this winter.
Charity Crafts is part of the prison’s Restorative Justice Program, through which inmates find ways to give back to the community, according to Tommie Thomas, RCI program supervisor.
Restorative justice and large organizations as victims
One of the ongoing challenges we face here at Mediation Services is how to meaningfully involve corporations and large businesses in the restorative justice process.
The process is relatively clear when there is an offender and a victim – or even when there are multiple victims and/or offenders. Individuals have needs and interests and a mediator works to bring people together for meaningful and fruitful exchange. Of course, every situation is unique and demands an “out of the box” thinking in order to make any process effective for the participants.
But when the “victim” is a large corporation, there are at least two unique challenges for a mediator to address:
Helping the community, building connections
Recently, we shared the article “Give prisoners the chance to help the community” by Erwin James in which he describes prison as consisting of “enforced idleness” and working to “create model prisoners instead of model citizens.” Erwin describes the benefits of programmes allowing prisoners to do something for the community. Referring to his own participation in a Braille unit when incarcerated for murder, he says, “...it was the first time in our lives that we had experienced the satisfaction that can be gained from helping other people.”
I thought about Erwin’s article as I read about prisoners making trauma bears in the Australian state of Victoria. The programme – a partnership between Prison Fellowship Australia and the prisons – teaches prisoners how to sew and stuff the soft toys that are used by emergency service personnel to comfort children in trauma situations. The prisoners may also pay for the materials to make a soft toy for a loved one. Programme volunteers describe the paradox of watching the men who have caused harm work to create the soft toys. As described in the article, “Masculine hands clenched tight ready to harm or reaching out to thieve and finally bound for prison now develop something creative and productive that brings joy to traumatised children and their loved ones.”