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Growing Interest in Innovative Prison Management system.

Prison Fellowship affiliates in several countries are operating unique programs that make dramatic changes in prison management. These changes are based on a methodology developed by the Brazilian Association for Protection and Assistance to the Convicted (APAC), the PF affiliate in Brazil.

The APAC methodology creates a strong community environment among prisoners and volunteers that fosters spiritual, behavioral and lifestyle changes.

History

Dr. Mario Ottoboni, a Brazilian lawyer, became concered about the  imprisoned city. Working with a group of dedicated church laymen, including Dr. Silvio Marques, a local magistrate, and Dr. Hugo Veronese, an educational psychologist, Dr. Ottoboni developed what is now called the APAC methodology. It was first applied in the Humaita Prison, in San Jose dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil. Over the past 25 years, APAC has gained international recognition as an effective approach to reducing recidivism rates. 

In 1989, the Association for the Protection of the Convicted became the Brazilian affiliate of Prison Fellowship International. In the 1990s, the APAC methodology was adopted by PF affiliates in Ecuador and the United States. 

Because of interest from other affiliates, Prison Fellowship International conducted a research project between 1998 and 2000, to identify a strategy for adapting the APAC methodology in other cultures and countries while maintaining its integrity.

In the APAC methodology 
  • Unconditional love permeates the atmosphere the prison. This is based upon God’s love, a sacrificial love for each individual.
  • Human Valorization helps the person to become fully aware of his or her innate human dignity and empowered to develop all of his or her capabilities.
  • Evangelization includes ministering to physical needs and other needs such as medical care, legal aid, social work, and employment assistance as well as sharing the Gospel.
  • Spiritual Transformation provides a participant every opportunity to take the journey from spiritual crisis to renewal.
  • Reintegration and restoration address the need to restore and strengthen family relationships, and to integrate prisoners positively into society with the help of godparents, mentors, and other PF volunteers.

 

These integral principles may be interpreted differently depending on cultural and religions traditions.

Research on the effect of religious participation on re-offending is promising. For example, in 1997, Byron Johnson and others found that high participation in Prison Fellowship Bible studies (ten times a year) in four New York State prisons seemed to lower recidivism rates.  

For more information on the APAC methodology or affiliates running them, please contact Lynette Parker at the Prison Fellowship International General Secretariat in Washington, D. C.

By Lynette Parker

November 2001

 

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