Learning respect for a victim’s pain – a powerful speech to prisoners and criminal justice officials
from the article on Sycamore Voices:
When I first began the program I was recovering from a broken right wrist, it was a bad break and extremely painful. In greeting the residents I had to offer my right wrist – these guys have strong handshakes and a couple of times I actually winced in pain.
In order for me to be acquainted with the participants I had to offer something of myself, which hurt. In turn the guys learnt to not shake my hand hard and they developed a respect for my pain. Eight weeks on I can offer my hand without the fear of pain, as there has been a healing process.
Experiencing the Sycamore Tree course
from the article posted by Prison Fellowship England and Wales:
At the start of this year, I had the privilege of attending a Prison Fellowship ‘Sycamore Tree’ course in a women’s prison. I joined an experienced group facilitator and got to know several women who had committed crimes and were serving time.
Survey on restorative justice teaching programmes
from the announcement by the European Forum for Restorative Justice:
What: The Leuven institute of Criminology (LINC) and the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) are happy to announce the dawn of an online database regarding courses on Restorative Justice. This database hopes to include all the courses at the university and university college level available worldwide. With the combined efforts of those teaching Restorative Justice we can make this a success!
The mother finding solace after her son's murder - by visiting prisons to talk to killers
from the article in the MailOnline:
There it was, tucked between the magazines on her coffee table: proof that her beloved son was going to get married. When Lyn Connolly found the engagement ring catalogue, she instantly knew what it meant.
That evening, ecstatic, she teasingly challenged 28-year-old Paul about it.
Paul, who had been dating teacher Izzy Harris for two years, coyly admitted their happy secret: he had asked her to marry him. They had designed a diamond ring together, which they had been waiting for the jeweller to finish before announcing the news.
But just weeks after her happy discovery in August 2002, Lyn's joy was cut short. Paul was stabbed to death on a street near their Liverpool home by two men high on drugs in a motiveless and unprovoked attack.
Lyn suddenly found herself planning a funeral instead of a wedding. Hers is a story that would touch the hardest of hearts.
'There is the story of what happened to Paul and the story of how we got through it,' she says. 'I rarely manage to get to the end without crying.'
Tending deep wounds
In October, Prison Fellowship South Africa held its last scheduled Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) course for 2013 in Pretoria Women’s Correctional Centre. The 18 prisoners and six victims addressed many issues related to crime and the harm that it causes. For one, the programme offered an opportunity to address the deep wounds of racism and violence from her country’s past.
From death row to restorative justice
from the article by Marina Cantacuzino:
Restorative justice is a system that fundamentally views crime as injury rather than wrong-doing, and justice as healing rather than punishment. Whilst visiting New York, Minneapolis, Hawaii and Texas (thanks to receiving a Winston Churchill travelling fellowship) I've uncovered some remarkable US-based programs that bear this out. But as founding director of The Forgiveness Project, a UK-based charity that delivers a restorative justice programme in prisons, I'm also surprised by how often the death penalty is central to the conversation.
Actions and consequences: How restorative justice can help victims move on
from the article by Javed Khan:
If you were a victim of crime, would you want to meet the offender?
What would you say to them?
A burglary victim might, for example, want to talk about the inconvenience, the hassle of sorting out the mess and replacing what has been stolen.
They could spell out that some things - just objects to an outsider - are completely irreplaceable, and how sentimental value outweighs any financial cost.
But we all know that actions have unintended consequences, and burglary isn't just about what's been taken, it's about what's been left behind too.
Collapsing barriers between victims and offenders
In mid-July, Prison Fellowship Italy completed the first Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) course in Modena Prison. Nine prisoners and five crime survivors came together to share their stories and develop a mutual respect for each other.
In a press conference held at the end of the course, the prison director, Rosa Alba Casella, described her initial scepticism about allowing the programme in the facility. However, the experiences of the nine participating prisoners and the intense interest from the rest of the inmate population convinced her of the usefulness of STP.
Restorative justice behind prison walls
from the article by Pierre R. Berastain from Huff Post Crime:
On June 22 and 23, I made a promise to individuals typically considered convicted murderers, thieves, and drug dealers, most of whom are serving at least one life sentence for their crimes. I have sat on my thoughts and words for a few hours now because, in all sincerity, whatever I see on my screen seems lifeless, devoid of everything I experienced in the company of these men. Yet, I made a promise to tell the story of those two days.
With the help of my friend and colleague Professor Karen Lischinski, the men from the Restorative Justice Group at MCI-Norfolk Prison worked for many months to host a two-day restorative justice retreat behind prison walls. Let me repeat: The men serving time at Norfolk Prison helped put together a retreat meant to inspire inmates to rehabilitate, mend the harms they have caused, and make promises to the community in and outside the prison walls that they will live more honest and honorable lives. The experience felt transformative.
Seeing the Other Side
From the article on PFI.org:
Once so full of fear that she could not sleep or speak, Melissa now stood before a group of prisoners to read aloud a letter she wrote to the man whose crime tormented her for years. "What you did to me 14 years ago changed my life forever,” she read from her letter. She was recalling the day when a man held a gun to her head during a robbery at the bank where she worked in Queensland, Australia. While the robbery lasted only a short time, the ramifications from it continue to affect Melissa today. “I lost years of my life and years from my children’s life,” she lamented. “I prayed the world would stop. The world kept spinning, and while other lives thrived, mine stood still.”