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Prison-Community Relations

Articles about community involvement in prisons and efforts by prisons to engage with their communities.

APAC's sucess
Lorenn, Thanks for the comment. You are right about APAC's successes in helping the recuperandos change their lives and reintegrate into society. It's amazing just [...]
Principles and stories
Billy, thanks for your comments. I think you are right and there is a need to explain how approaching crime and wrong doing from a [...]
Young in prison
Gary, thanks for your kind words about the article and the work of PFI. I agree with your statements on the need to remember that [...]
Thank you for this Lynn. It is a sad commentary to assume there is no hope for people, especially youth. And thank you for writing [...]
restorative Justice
A clear reasoned statement. It may be time to spell out the principles and to tell the stories of the various forms of restorative approaches [...]
Prisons - rehabilitation - justice
Lynn is both articulate and accurate and I have nothing to add to her comments - I have the honor of knowing the PFI programs [...]
Prisons, rehabilitation and justice
by Lynette Parker Recently, I read an article about the struggles faced by the state of Florida after the US Supreme Court banned sentences of life without parole for juveniles who do not kill anyone. In the discussion over the need to revisit cases and re-sentence the offenders, one retired judge was quoted: “There are no resources in prisons for rehabilitation,'' the former judge said. ``You give him 30 years, and he'll get out when he's 45, what's he going to do? Re-offend. Some people, regardless of their age, need to be put away forever.”
What were they thinking? Horse farms and inmates?
from the blog entry by Peter Hermann on It was one of those feel-good programs that come across reporters' desks nearly every day. This was from the state prison system: "Restorative Justice Benefits Women Inmates and Starving Horses." Here's what the news release said: The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services today added yet another to its growing list of unique restorative justice inmate initiatives, putting a work crew comprised of female inmates at Howard County’s Days End Farm Horse Rescue. The inmates, from the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCI-W) in Jessup, will begin with grounds maintenance and landscaping, and eventually move into equine care. “What we try to do with these restorative justice programs is not only give inmates skills and the chance to pay back the society they’ve harmed, but meaningful projects that really do make a difference in the lives of people -- and in this case, horses,” said DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard. Only state prison officials forgot to tell the neighbors of the horse farm, as well as the young volunteers who work there. Now, state officials have shut down the program, according to a story by The Baltimore Sun's Larry Carson.
Lessons in transformation: "You gotta smile at the little f…ers"
By KIm Workman Last night, Maori Television screened the first of a two part programme dealing with the issue of family violence and child abuse. ‘Tamariki Ora - A New Beginning’ was a defining moment for Maori. It showed Maori men acknowledging that the abuse they received as children, turned them into abusers of their own children. But it also showed the extent to which whanau (families) are acknowledging the issues, forging their own solutions, and actively working within their whanau and the community to encourage positive, loving relationships. I recall in my own marae (*meeting house) , less than 20 years ago, female elders defending a male elder who had sexually abused a visiting school child, as being a practise that was culturally acceptable in traditional times. We all knew that was nonsense, but no one had the guts to face the issue head on. Those days are now well and truly gone. I wept tears at the programme – but they were tears of joy. From this day on, no one will ever be able to say that Maori are failing to take responsibility for their own behaviour.
Norway's humane prison
The world is certainly in need of more humane prisons. Some of the places where we house inmates are very much sub-standard and inhumane. This [...]
Norway builds the world's most humane prison
But how restorative is it? from William Lee Adams' article in Time: Ten years and 1.5 billion Norwegian kroner ($252 million) in the making, Halden is spread over 75 acres (30 hectares) of gently sloping forest in southeastern Norway. The facility boasts amenities like a sound studio, jogging trails and a freestanding two-bedroom house where inmates can host their families during overnight visits. Unlike many American prisons, the air isn't tinged with the smell of sweat and urine. Instead, the scent of orange sorbet emanates from the "kitchen laboratory" where inmates take cooking courses. "In the Norwegian prison system, there's a focus on human rights and respect," says Are Hoidal, the prison's governor. "We don't see any of this as unusual."
Prisons in the sky
A logical progression from the obscene supermax prisons. It shows how detached architects can be from real people, My wife taught in a school built [...]
Involving the community
I agree that the "vertical prison" design comes from the idea that separating people is necessary for "transformation." The reality is that this says more [...]
Prisons in the sky
by Dan Van Ness One of the persistent themes in penology has been the idea that architecture can help produce transformation in people. From the monastery-like isolation of prisoners in the Walnut Street Jail and its successor the Eastern State Penitentiary in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries to the Auburn model allowing for aggregate work but individual isolation, to Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, to today's Supermax prisons, form has indeed followed function. Now eVolo magazine has awarded first place in its 2010 Skyscraper Competition to Malaysian architectural students for their Vertical Prison, conceived of as somehow floating high above the ground with elevator pods transporting prisoners, staff, food and so forth between the prison and earth. Prisoners would work in farms to supply earth with organic products. Those who behaved well would be given cells with windows pointed to the earth so they would be motivated to reform themselves. The naivete of the design (the prison floats without support in the sky) and reform strategy (the architecture students do not appear to have researched the history of prisons) is remarkable, as is that of the judges of the competition.
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.
Gyokos, Melinda. "Restorative prison" projects in Hungary.
The Hungarian "restorative prison" projects has nothing to do with the procedure-oriented restorative practices. Instead, these programmes do not involve the party directly injured by the crime but offer a chance to convicts who show remorse to make amends while they serve their prison term. The inmates make reparations to the local community, which is indirectly affected by the crime (due to the violation of the law), and not to the specific and directly injured party, the victim. This means that instead of providing compensation for the specific injury they caused, the criminals improve the local community's life by producing useful and visible results.The common qualities of good practice that enable the prison to be a part of the host town's or area's life are presented below. (excerpt)
Regelbrugge, Marianne and Dufraing, Dirk and Eyckmans, David. The concept of restorative justice in prison seen from the community and illustrated by the practice of victim-offender mediation
As David Eyckmans, Dirk Dufraing, and Marianne Regelbrugge point out, to understand the topic they address in this presentation, it is important to recognize that Belgium is a federal state consisting of communities and regions. Determination of law and policy in Belgium is shared by the federal government and regional communities and their authorities. The Flemish region is one of those communities. In general, with respect to criminal justice the federal government has responsibility for major functions concerning sanctions and incarceration of offenders. The communities have responsibility more for aid and social services, including those to prisoners and their victims. Since 2000 the federal Minister of Justice has begun to incorporate aspects of restorative justice in prison policy. Against this background, the authors detail the way the Flemish community, in cooperation with federal justice authorities and other organizations, is trying to pursue a restorative initiative toward prisoners and their victims. The authors discuss in this regard the conceptual framework for and outcomes of victim-offender mediation in prison.
Correctional Service of Canada. Toward a strategic direction for chaplaincy
As this paper indicates, people of faith have contributed in significant ways in shaping criminal justice thought and developing creative responses to criminal behavior. Is it possible to chart a strategic direction for the chaplaincy branch of the Correctional Service of Canada, especially given the diversity of spiritual and religious life in society at large and the correctional system in particular? Amid this context, and with awareness of the difficulties, the Correctional Service of Canada attempts in this document to give structure and vision to the chaplaincy’s work in the correctional system. The aims are to increase the chaplaincy capacity to meet the Correctional Service’s mission, justify developmental projects, clarify objectives for chaplains and related workers, foster the Correctional Service’s ability to meet new challenges such as increased religious plurality, and enhance internal and external public relations for the chaplaincy. The document covers the mission and values of the chaplaincy, an environmental or a situation analysis, strategic issues, and appendices on mandates in chaplaincy and partnerships in chaplaincy.
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 — — 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)
International Centre for Prison Studies. "We don't waste prisoners' time and we don't waste bicycles': The impact of restorative work in prisons
In January 2000 the International Centre for Prison Studies launched the Restorative Prison Project. The aims of the project are to review the concepts that shape the use of imprisonment and to work with the Prison Service in Great Britain to explore the possibility of applying restorative principles in the prison setting. This then is a report into the activities in prisons of the Inside Out Trust, an organization that promotes the development of vital links between prisons and the community, as well the development of opportunities for prisoners to do work for the benefit of others. The research in the report deals with the ways in which prisoners and prison staff view the work of the Trust. It also covers the impact of the Trust’s work on the regime of the prisons with which it is associated.

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