What kind of prison might the inmates design?
....The 18 men who enrolled in the four-day workshop this summer were contemplating restorative justice through a novel lens: design.
As consensus builds that traditional criminal justice models are failing to prevent recidivism, [Deanna] VanBuren and fellow instructor Barb Toews, an academic, have joined a small chorus of designers, researchers and even judges and wardens calling for new spaces to match the tenets of restorative justice.
...."What would a room look like," she then asked, "where you could face anything you've done and be accountable for it?"
Video: Inside the Sycamore Tree Project
from Sycamore Voices:
In June 2014, six crime survivors talked exclusively about their experiences inside the breakthrough restorative justice program called The Sycamore Tree Project. We share this short video in the hopes that other victims of crime can experience the real life breakthrough that the program offers.
I wanted revenge but found compassion
from the article on Sycamore Voices:
When I first heard of restorative practice I thought it was a load of rubbish. I thought that all the offender had to do was say sorry and that was it. So how would you know if they were genuine or not? I have come to realise that it is way more than that. To take part in a restorative practice session takes strength and courage from both sides and is way more than a simple “I’m sorry.” It is restorative on both sides!
from the article posted by Prison Fellowship England & Wales:
Rachel*, a Sycamore Tree volunteer, told us of how listening to a victim’s experiences had completely changed the attitude and behavior of an offender.
“Tyrone* was an offender that stood out to me. I remember him saying:
“In my past life I was a taker. I was robbing banks, shooting people, drinking, being involved in adultery, blasphemy and coveting my neighbour’s women. My sinning was prolific and I enjoyed it, I actually revelled in it.”
Another road to justice
from the article in Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:
The group of men listens, mesmerized, as Lynn BeBeau talks about the last time she saw her husband alive.
"I told him the same thing I always did: `I love you. Be careful.' "
Her husband grinned back.
"Honey, don't worry about me. Me and God are like this." He held up two crossed fingers and smiled.
Hours later, the Eau Claire police officer was shot to death in the line of duty.
The hulking men in prison greens sit perfectly still as BeBeau fights back tears. They are murderers, armed robbers, drug dealers, child molesters.
By talking, inmates and victims make things ‘more right’
from the article in The New York Times:
For many of his 15 years behind the soaring prison walls here, Muhammad Sahin managed to suppress thinking of his victims’ anguish — even that of the one who haunted him most, a toddler who peeked out from beneath her blankets the night he shot and killed her mother in a gang-ordered hit.
Offender: “Sycamore Tree is not just a course, but a life changer”
from the article by PF England and Wales:
I completed this course some months ago, but I am still experiencing the benefits even today. I am a huge advocate of Sycamore Tree as it has opened my eyes to the impact of my crime on numerous people, especially those who I did not know about, those who were victims through the ripple effect.
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!