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Victim Awareness and Empathy Programmes

Articles concerning the use of victim panels, meetings with surrogate victims and victim awareness classes to lead prisoners to consider the effects of their behaviour on their victims.

At this prison graduation, the focus is on knowing the effects of their crimes
from Doug Erickson's article in Wisconsin State Journal: ....During this season of high school and college graduations, 16 men received a very different kind of diploma Monday at Columbia Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison. Over three months, the inmates voluntarily completed a 30-session course on restorative justice, a curriculum meant to help them understand how much they'd harmed their victims, the community and themselves. For some of them, Monday's graduation ceremony was the first time they'd done anything worthy of even minimal praise. "I've been in all sorts of programs and always been kicked out," said Darren Morris, 33, whose peers voted him class speaker.
Can prisoners also be victims? Promoting injustice through legislation
by Kim Workman Last week’s introduction of the Prisoners' and Victims' Claims (Expiry and Application Dates) Amendment Bill, brings to mind one of the most shameful incidents in the history of New Zealand’s prison system. As Head of Prisons at the time, it gives me no great pleasure to reflect on the incident and the subsequent political response to it. In January 1993, three young prisoners at Mangaroa (now Hawkes Bay) prison were systematically beaten and tortured by prison officers. They held the young men naked in outside exercise yards, and used hit squads to repeatedly beat them over a three day period. The prisoners were initially denied access to medical support for injuries which included bruising and cracked bones.
Restorative Justice: Crime and Healing
From the article by Robert C. Koehler at "I have nowhere to talk about this except here in a prison setting," Peg said. "You are my community." The circle grew close, intimate -- sacred -- as the three women spoke. There were about 35 of us in all, sitting on hard plastic chairs. Twenty wore green: the inmates. The building was wrapped in razor wire. It was a maximum-security prison called Columbia Correctional Institution, in Portage, Wis. Built for 450 prisoners, it houses, two decades after it opened, about 900. The setting was old justice, but something new was happening. Not all that new, maybe. Restorative Justice -- a multifaceted system of criminal justice and conflict resolution that puts healing and truth-telling at its core, not punishment, revenge or the culling out of humanity's undesirables -- has been around and evolving for about 20 years now. It's slowly gaining a foothold in court systems and schools around the world: It is part, I'm certain, of an invisible wave of change that is transforming the planet. Nothing about it is simple, but something precious beyond compare can emerge from the process. Suffering can abate, torn lives and broken communities can heal, good can come from bad.
New study concludes that victim awareness programme works
by Dan Van Ness The Sycamore Tree Programme (STP), a victim awareness programme delivered by Prison Fellowship England and Wales since 1998, produces "significant positive attitudinal changes" in prisoners, making it less likely that they will commit crimes in the future. This is the finding of a new study that evaluated before and after questionnaires completed by 5,007 programme participants over the past three years.
A Pilot Study of a faith-based restorative justice intervention for Christian and non-Christian offenders
from the journal article by Armour, Windsor, Aguilar, and Taub in Journal of Psychology and Christianity: Restorative justice and faith-based programs are receiving increased attention as innovative ways to help change offenders' internal motivations as well as external behaviors (Rockefeller institute of Government, 2007). The purpose of the present pilot study is to examine change in offenders' pro-social responses after participation in an in-prison faith-based program that draws from the principles of restorative justice.
Go to prison
posted by Andrea Schneider on Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog: Last week I had the honor of joining my colleague Janine Geske on her regular journey to Green Bay Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison reminiscent of the prison in Shawshank Redemption. The prisoners at Green Bay run the gamut of serious crimes from sexual assault to drug distribution to armed robbery to homicide. Janine runs a three-day session on restorative justice, meeting with about twenty prisoners as part of a several-month program on the challenges and possibilities faced by these men. She has been running this program here for years as part of our Restorative Justice Initiative, and I was so excited to finally fit this in my schedule. Having done this trip last week and then spent the past weekend in services for Rosh Hashanah, I have had plenty of time to reflect on crime, punishment, repentance, and redemption. In retrospect, I don’t know that I could have timed this better. Suffice it to say, the experience was amazing.
Bridges to Life Restorative Justice Program PBS Video
Bridges to Life is an in-prison restorative justice programme helping prisoners understand the impact of crime on victims. This three minute clip shows victims sharing their stories and the response from prisoner participants.
Khulisas' Restorative Justice Programme at Leeukop Prison
This nine minute video shows victims and offenders sharing their stories in a South African Prison.
Restorative justice process helps prisoners, victims
From Phil Haslanger's article in the Capital Times: Each of the 18 grads spoke a bit as they came forward to accept their diplomas from Sue Heneman, a Madison volunteer who was one of the teachers in the program along with Diana Shaw. What was striking was how many of them talked about becoming aware for the first time of the consequences their actions had on their victims, on the community. These men were here for big-time crimes - murder, sexual assault, running prostitution rings.
Lisa Rea: Speaking about victims-driven restorative justice at a California prison during Victim Awareness Week
You always learn something when you speak on restorative justice at a prison. This experience was no different. During the week in California called “Victims Awareness Week” I was invited to speak in prison on restorative justice. I brought Cheryl Ward-Kaiser, victim of violent crime and a champion in California for victims-driven restorative justice since the 1990’s. We were a tag team that day which made our presentation all the more powerful. Although the events planned for the week were to teach about victim awareness, few victims of crime were coming to the prison.
Bohland, Charlyn. 2008. Restorative Justice: A New Approach to Battling Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. Honors Senior Research Project. University of Akron.
The reality of driving under the influence (DUI) is sobering. Over 17,000 people die each year as a result of preventable alcohol-related crashes. While 1.4 million people are arrested for DUI, there are nearly 159 million others who self-confess to DUI each year. Within three years of being arrested, three-fourths of offenders will be rearrested for DUI. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the predictable failure of current criminal justice standards, and the hope and promise of a new wave of justice – restorative. Restorative justice focuses on healing the injustice of the crime through direct person-to-person interaction in several different ways –community reparative boards, family conferences, mediations, and victim impact panels. Research is based on a relatively current compilation of national and international studies regarding DUI cases, criminal justice standards, and restorative justice initiatives. Finally, and most importantly, this project presents an adaptable model for dealing with drunken driving offenders, both first-time and repeat offenders, using restorative measures as an effective means of curbing the number of deaths, decreasing recidivism rates, and drastically reducing the number of DUI cases, all while restoring the victim, offender, and community to its original state before DUI tragedies occur.
Workman, Kim. The Future of Restorative Justice – Control, Co-option, and Co-operation
This paper explores the history of restorative justice in New Zealand and lays out a course for the future.
Allen, Jennifer Marie. The construction and transformation of the victim identity in victim impact panels
This study was designed to address the questions of (1) why victims participate in victim/offender rehabilitative programs, in particular victim impact panels, and (2) what issues victims attempt to address after their victimizations and whether victim impact panels serve as a means of addressing these issues. Qualitative research methods in the form of one-on-one interviews with victims of crime involved with victim impact panels were used to gather the information needed to answer the research questions. The subjects were recruited from four victim impact panel programs in the states of Illinois and Missouri. A total of 18 subjects were interviewed. The findings revealed that victims participated in victim impact panel programs because of restorative justice, psychological effects, stigma, religion, and for personal gratification. The victims also reported that they felt stigmatized by the criminal justice system and by significant others. Many of them faced self-blame, guilt, and embarrassment at their role in causing the criminal act. The data also revealed that victims had an increased fear of crime and feelings of dissatisfaction in the justice provided by the criminal justice system after the criminal incident. Lastly, evidence revealed that victims of crime used victim impact panels to abate the issues they faced with regard to stigma and fear of revictimization. Unfortunately, the findings did not demonstrate that victims were able to lessen the issue of inadequate justice by participating in the victim impact panel program. (author's abstract)
Wootton, Lindy and Liebmann, Marian. Restorative justice in Bristol prison.
This workshop briefly outlines the work of the HMP Bristol Restorative Justice Project, with particular focus on the issues raised by work in prisons. The HMP Bristol Restorative Justice Project (RJP) was a year-long pilot project that ran from April 2003 until March 2004. At the time HMP Bristol was a Category A (the most secure rating) local prison for men. The RJP employed one member of staff, and its remit was to: • Introduce the principles of restorative justice to the prison, in collaboration with community agencies. • To deliver an ‘enhanced’ victim contact service. • To design and implement victim impact group work programmes and individual work with prisoners. (excerpt)
Toews, Barb. A Body in Motion.
A Body in Motion is a play that was prisoner requested in the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, one of Pennsylvania’s largest prisons. Prisoners familiar with Howard Zehr’s book, Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims, asked the Pennsylvania Prison Society and its Restorative Justice Program to bring the play to their prison. This expanded to a tour of eight state prisons and seven community-based sites in April and May 2004. Through project goals, partnership and process, and audience care, the tour offered a new application of these restorative elements. This article focuses primarily on the prison aspects of the play tour.
Editor. Sycamore Tree programme: ‘a journey for them all’
A community-based restorative justice programme that involves groups of crime victims meeting with groups of offenders is to be introduced to prisons in Palmerston North, Wanganui and Invercargill over the next six months. The Sycamore Tree programme, run by the Prison Fellowship of New Zealand, has been operating successfully at Hawke's Bay Prison for the last three years.'We've had glowing feedback from our participants,' says Jackie Katounas, who has been facilitating the programme in Hastings. The Department of Corrections is funding an extension of the programme into Manawatu Prison from August, Wanganui Prison from September, and Invercargill Prison from November. The voluntary programme involves groups of six inmates and six victims of unrelated crimes coming together for eight two-hour sessions. (excerpt)
Crew, Benjamin Keith and Johnson, Sarah Emily. Do victim impact programs reduce recidivism for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated? Findings from an outcomes evaluation.
In victim impact panels, persons convicted of driving while intoxicated are confronted by survivors of accidents caused by drunk drivers. The objective is to reduce the number of subsequent convictions by increasing empathy with victims and increasing awareness of the seriousness of the consequences of drinking and driving. Participation in a victim impact course was not found to consistently reduce reoffending in a sample of persons convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. More specifically, program participants were just as likely to reoffend as non-participants and sometimes more likely. (author's abstract)
Anonymous. 'Profound Impact on Inmates'
This article introduces the Sycamore Tree community-based restorative justice programme of Prison Fellowship of New Zealand, which will be started at the Waikeria and Auckland prisons. The programme is organized by Christians and begins with offenders who volunteer to participate in the sessions. It has four objectives--reconciliation, reparation, transformation, and a reduction in reoffending--and can lead to prisoners dealing with other surrounding issues. The celebration meal also affords prison management personnel an opportunity to involve families and victims in rehabilitation.
Anonymous. Genuine Remorse.
This short article outlines the personal story of a former offender now working with a community based restorative justice initiative. Jackie Katounas has had 138 convictions and spent 12 years in prison, and now works for the Hawkes Bay Restorative Justice Te Puna Wai Ora Inc. in New Zealand. In the first 13 months of work on the Whakatikatika Prison Project, Jackie has raised awareness of restorative justice with offenders already in prison, and she has facilitated 15 conferences with victims. Includes examples of serial offenders for whom restorative justice experience has brought a positive outlook to their lives.
Davis, Michael. Victim awareness: A model of problem-solving justice.
In 1996, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) implemented a program to help offenders understand the negative impact of their crimes on victims. The Victim Awareness Program is based on the Impact of Crime on Victims Program developed in 1984 by the California Youth Authority and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In Ohio, the program’s curriculum addresses several crime types, including drunk driving, property offenses, family violence, sexual assault, and homicide. Other curriculum topics include restorative justice practices, the impact of violence in the media, making amends, and offender reentry. The common thread running throughout the program is the concept of offender responsibility and accountability for behaviors and actions. The program utilizes cognitive-behavioral exercises and experientially based instruction. A crucial element is the personal testimony of victims of crime. (excerpt)

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