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Preparation for Release

Articles describing restorative justice programmes whose objective is to prepare prisoners (and sometimes their families, victims and/or communities) for release.

Walker, Lorenn. Restorative celebrations for parolee and probationer completion: The importance of ritual for reentry.
Under the guidance of internationally respected restorative justice expert John Braithwaite from Australia and criminal desistance expert Shadd Maruna in Ireland, Lorenn Walker, on behalf of Hawai'i friends of Justice and Civic Education, collaborated with members of the Hawai'i justice system to develop restorative rituals for people who completed parole and probation. Over 150 people have participated in the events including judges; parole board members; parole and probation officers; state and private attorneys; drug treatment counselors; prison staff; prison officers; people successfully completing parole; formerly incarcerated people no longer under government jurisdiction; people on parole and probation; and friends and family of people completing parole and other community members. This chapter describes two types of restorative rituals celebrating parole and probation completion and discusses the importance of rituals for effective reentry. (editor's description)
Negrea, Vidia. Restorative practices in Hungary: An ex-prisoner is reintegrated into the community.
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 — www.pfi.org/cjr/stp/introduction — 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.(excerpt)
Hurley, Martha Henderson. Restorative practices in institutional settings and at release: victim wrap around programs.
While earlier efforts to increase victim involvement emphasized changes within early stages of the criminal justice system, recent efforts have emphasized the need for greater involvement of victims within institutional settings and during the reentry process. The most recent avenue of exploration for policy changes within institutional environments that include victims’ perspectives has been the desire to implement restorative justice practices within institutional settings for adult offenders (see information available from The Pennsylvania Prison Society at http://www. prisonsociety.org/progs/rj.shtml). In addition to the push for implementation of restorative practices behind prison walls, several state correctional systems have incorporated victim wrap around services within the parole process. The next section discusses the literature and reviews some of the programs that have been developed as part of restorative justice practices behind prison walls and victim wrap around services incorporated into the reentry process for inmates. (excerpt)
Huikahi Restorative Circles: Group process for self-directed reentry planning and family healing
from Lorenn Walker's article in European Journal of Probation: ....The Huikahi Circle is a facilitated reentry planning group process for individual incarcerated people, their invited supporters, and at least one prison representative. The incarcerated person determines what they want and the group helps her determine how best to achieve her goals. It can result in better outcomes for people leaving prison or drug treatment programs than case planning and case management where professionals make decisions for others.
Prison experiences of self forgiveness
from the paper presented by Fergus Hogan and Jonathan Culleton at Experiencing Prison: Crime challenges communities; criminal activity is an assault on civic society – individuals who break the law are deemed to have stepped outside of society. Yet prison as a response to crime can also be read as an assault on community; often those imprisoned were never fully integrated into society.
What's next for Minnesota's ex-cons?
from Rubén Rosario's article on TwinCities.com: What does it really take to keep a person from going back to prison? Let's see. Resources that work, perhaps faith and prayers, a change in peers or environment, and, most important of all, the willingness and commitment of the offender to do what it takes to make that change. ....Given that up to 95 percent of offenders eventually return to society, we need to do better. According to one major study, two-thirds of offenders are arrested again within three years of their release. In Minnesota, up to 36 percent of offenders are sent back to prison for a felony within three years of release, pretty much mirroring the national situation. ....Minnesota's Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan (MCORP) was devised five years ago and funded three years ago to help cut the recidivism rate.
Howse, Yvonne and Fiddler, Sid and Saulis, Malcolm. Release Potential of Federally-Sentenced Aboriginal Inmates to Communities.
Specific study objectives were to identify community-based correctional initiatives; to examine perceptions, attitudes, and values of First Nation community people toward offenders and their release; to evaluate the possibility of using community-based initiatives to monitor, facilitate, and sustain release; to identify healing initiatives within correctional institutions and community-based restorative justice initiatives for Aboriginals; and to analyze the return of Federal offenders in the community context. Interviews were conducted with 62 persons from the five communities using individual household questionnaires; 69 percent of respondents were between 30 and 50 years of age, and 77 percent were females. Needs identified for offenders who had been released from prisons were elder counseling, traditional cultural guidance and healing circles, and structural transition programs for both offenders and the community. Most respondents also mentioned emotional support as an important need. Programs and services that were coordinated, integrative, and holistic were identified by many respondents. Interviews with 34 key informants indicated offenders who had been released from prison faced barriers and competition for employment, education, and training in their communities. Interviews with 15 elders showed elders saw their role as providing services for Aboriginal offenders who were released from prison and wanted to reintegrate into the community. Participants in community circles and focus groups supported offender reintegration efforts and initiatives to restore balance in the community, with the exception of violent and dangerous sex offenders. Released offenders said the transitional phase of release was the most difficult, and most offenders currently in prison recommended various support systems to keep Aboriginal people out of prison. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org
Rehabilitation is everyone’s responsibility
by Lynette Parker Recently, I watched a Vimeo video about the reform of the Solomon Islands Correctional Services. It starts with an individual describing his crime and how the local traditional justice would’ve responded with banishment. The current system wasn’t very different; the banishment happened with a prison sentence. From that point, different officials and community volunteers describe a process of shifting the system culture from punitive to rehabilitative. It’s a shift that focuses on needs and relationships.

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