5 amazing things I've heard during the Sycamore Tree Project(R)
by Martin Howard:
At first, it sounds like a bizarre social experiment - natural enemies placed together inside a prison to see if they can get along. Men convicted of violent crimes alongside victims of violent crime.
Even though the concept has been proven in over 25 countries, people still find it hard to comprehend the Sycamore Tree Project (STP). And it took a long time to convince the prison authorities in Queensland to allow it.
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.
My experience with the Sycamore Tree Project(sm)
from the article by a British prison chaplain:
I’ve been facilitating the Sycamore Tree courses in my prison now for about eighteen months. Sycamore Tree is the Restorative Justice programme run by Prison Fellowship (http://www.pfi.org/). It is a six week course which runs one afternoon a week.
Over such time you would not expect very much to happen. How can you change a person’s outlook on their life in six short afternoons?
Letting victims define justice
....There is a growing myth that for victims, justice requires tougher penalties. If only it was that simple. There is no evidence that punishment is as important to the majority of victims as some would have us believe. When asked in one study why they reported the crime, sexual assault victims listed punishment of the offender very low on their list of priorities.
by Lynette Parker:
As I was browsing through Twitter feeds I saw a comment about an offensive apology letter. Of course I clicked the link to read the letter. I had to agree with Victim Support UK; the letter was offensive and disrespectful. I also agreed with the Twitter comment from Why Me?, “The problem with That Letter is there was no preparation first.”
Restorative practices in Hungary: An ex-prisoner is reintegrated into the community
from the article by Vidia Negrea:
As the representative of Community Service Foundation of Hungary, the Hungarian affiliate of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), I participated in a group session of the Hungarian Crime Prevention and Prison Mission Foundation in summer 2009 (Sycamore Tree Project — or Zacchaeus Program in Hungary). There I met the governor of Balassagyarmat prison, where inmates were working in groups on issues related to their crimes and exploring ways to repair relationships they had damaged.
Some inmates began accepting responsibility for what they had done and were motivated to make things right and earn forgiveness of victims and their families. Prisoners made symbolic reparation in the form of community service within the prison, but there was still a lot to do to create opportunities for offenders to make contact with victims and shed the stigma of their offense by means of direct reparation. Also, prison management believed it important to support processes, acceptable to victimized families and communities, to help prisoners regain control of their lives and prevent reoffending.
from the video by Marilyn Armour:
Jason Shippy (student): I think the biggest surprise that I learned is that victims of crimes actually want to talk about the offense and actually kind of get a little upset that even people who are fairly close to them just pretend like the crime never happened or that the person who was murdered never existed.
The offer of restorative justice to victims of violent crime: Should it be protective or proactive?
The victims in our sample suggest generalizing the offer of restorative justice to all victims. Themselves victims of very serious crimes, they experienced the beneficial impact of participation in a restorative intervention. However, while they believe that all victims should be informed about restorative opportunities, they emphasize that victims have to feel ready to participate in such programs.
The limits of empathy
....Empathy orients you toward moral action, but it doesn’t seem to help much when that action comes at a personal cost. You may feel a pang for the homeless guy on the other side of the street, but the odds are that you are not going to cross the street to give him a dollar.
There have been piles of studies investigating the link between empathy and moral action. Different scholars come to different conclusions, but, in a recent paper, Jesse Prinz, a philosopher at City University of New York, summarized the research this way: “These studies suggest that empathy is not a major player when it comes to moral motivation. Its contribution is negligible in children, modest in adults, and nonexistent when costs are significant.” Other scholars have called empathy a “fragile flower,” easily crushed by self-concern.
NPR: Victims confront offenders, face to face
from Laura Sullivan's interview with Sujatha Baliga on Talk of the Nation:
BALIGA: Yes. And I said there's no chance. You know, this is not a case for restorative justice. The system is not amenable, particularly in your state. And I can't tell too many details, because we're still finishing things up with that case right now. It's not quite a done deal yet. But we're close.
And the mother of this young man was so persistent and told me that she had actually been meeting with the girl's parents. She and her husband were meeting with the girl's parents, and that the girl's parents actually were the one interested in restorative justice. And she said, Can I give them your information? I said I'd be happy to talk to them and tell you the same thing I'm telling you, which is that this is not happening.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)