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Experiments with restorative processes in prisons and the creation of a restorative prison environment are growing.

Awesome things happen when people come together
by Lynette Parker Recently, I met with representatives from Prison Fellowship Italy (PF Italy) visiting the Washington, DC area. In early 2010, a colleague and I had visited Italy to train members of the new organisation in the Sycamore Tree Project® so I was really looking forward to hearing about their experiences and the lessons learned. I wasn’t prepared for the awe inspiring stories that they told. The Sycamore Tree Project® is an in-prison restorative justice programme bringing together unrelated victims and prisoners for a series of six to eight sessions. Through the sessions, participants explore the impact of crime, taking responsibility, confession, repentance, making amends, forgiveness and reconciliation. PF Italy worked quickly to implement this programme in Italian prisons but faced a few obstacles. In the end, the prison administration allowed them to start but with the proviso that the first group consist of prisoners who were mafia members convicted of committing murder and survivors of victims of such mafia activity. I remember receiving that news and thinking, “That’s not where I would want to start.”
Biermans, Nadia And d'Hoop, Marie Nathalie. Development of Belgian Prisons into a Restorative Perspective
Biermans and d’Hoop explore in this paper the development of a restorative approach in the Belgian prison system.
Biermans, Nadia. Restorative justice and the prison system
For about two years now, Nadia Biermans, along with others, has been trying to apply restorative justice ideas and practices in Flemish prisons. Based on her experiences, in this paper she raises some questions and makes certain observations about restorative justice in the prison system. She begins by explaining how restorative justice in Belgian prisons began and how it is organized. This leads to discussion of the question of whether restorative justice has a place in prison, the issue of educating and persuading the wider public about restorative justice, and successful ingredients for introducing restorative justice in prisons.
Blaha, Magdolna Fabianne and Velez, Edit and Negrea, Vidia. The use of family group conferencing/Decision-making with prisoners in prison probation and during after-care in Hungary.
For years now, the Hungarian Probation Service has considered it one of its main tasks to use the methods of restorative justice more extensively in their work with offenders. These efforts were supported by the fact that the probation service is now responsible for the tasks related to mediation and as such mediation in criminal cases has become an institutional form of restorative justice. The Probation service is working on the implementation of restorative justice principles in other types of cases also, and is trying to ensure that the various techniques and procedures become integral parts of the probation officers' case management methodology. To this end, various experimental projects were launched. One of these was a project which the purpose was to include the method of family group conferencing/decision-making in the case management of probation officers. (excerpt)
Chickens and chats form basis of new prison life
from the entry on This is Corwall: ...."It may sound gimmicky, because this is supposed to be a prison and a place of punishment, but the people I'm charged with looking after are some of the most troubled and troublesome members of society," he said. "Their individual backgrounds are horrendous in terms of not having a father figure, and a lack of education and the opportunities that you and I experienced." Through treating prisoners with "decency" and giving back a sense of respect, staff are already seeing a drop in incidents of bullying and drug abuse. A large number of prisoners have volunteered to sign up to a scheme to donate a small weekly sum to the Victim Support Service.
Criminal Justice Joint Inspection. Facing up to offending: Use the restorative justice in the criminal justice system.
The aim of this review was to identify the benefits of restorative justice practices across the criminal justice system. It was a joint inspection, carried out by Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation), Her Majesty‟s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP). Fieldwork comprised an inspection of police forces, probation trusts and youth offending teams (YOTs) in six criminal justice areas: Sussex, Norfolk, Merseyside, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and North Wales. In each area we interviewed staff, victims and offenders, held focus groups with the public, and examined a sample of case records. We also inspected three custodial establishments: one adult male prison (HMP Gloucester), one young offender institution (YOI) holding 18 to 25-year-old males (HMYOI Thorn Cross), and one children and young people‟s establishment holding 15 to 18-year-old males (HMYOI Hindley). A complete methodology is at Annex B. (excerpt)
Criminal Justice System (England). Restorative Justice Mapping Exercise of UK Prisons
As part of the Government’s commitment to raise the profile of Restorative Justice (RJ) throughout all Criminal Justice agencies, last July we carried out a mapping exercise involving all establishments to find out how much RJ activity, victim awareness and reparative work is currently taking place. We would like to thank everyone who was involved with the replies. RJ is about managed contact between victims and offenders, in order for victims to get answers to their questions, tell the offender what the real impact of their offending was and receive an apology. Offenders are given the opportunity to make amends for their crime, either to the victim themselves or to the community. The strategy document on RJ, issued in 2003 stated that the Government aims to maximise the use of RJ in the Criminal Justice System as it serves to increase victims’ satisfaction and may reduce re-offending. (excerpt)
Criminals could cut sentences by saying ‘sorry’
from the article by Anushka Asthana and Jamie Doward in The Observer: Tens of thousands of offenders may be able to reduce their sentences by making personal apologies to their victims, under plans for a “rehabilitation revolution” in the criminal justice system. Crispin Blunt, the prisons minister, is considering the move as part of a drive to offer victims the chance to come face-to-face with the person who committed the crime against them. A report released today by two charities, Victim Support and the Restorative Justice Consortium, suggests the policy could save £185m in two years by cutting reoffending.
Daelemans, Ann. Guiding the Change Process in Belgian Prisons: Towards a Restorative Prison Policy.
The presentation will deal with the implementation of restorative justice in the Belgian prison system. In 2000, the position of the restorative justice consultant was created in order to realise a ‘restorative detention’. RJ-consultants are working within the prison walls and are employees of the Federal Department of Justice. In their mission of guiding the change process towards a restorative prison policy, they have an advisory role towards the prison governor. (excerpt)
Dinsdale, Jennifer. Restorative Justice in HM Prison Holme House: A Research Paper
The International Centre for Prison Studies initiated the Restorative Prison Project to examine the conceptual framework for imprisonment and to work with the Prison Service in Great Britain to apply restorative principles in the prison setting. One site for this work is HM Prison Holme House in northeast England. In 2001 Jennifer Dinsdale, a graduate student unaffiliated with the Restorative Prison Project, conducted research into the feasibility of restorative schemes in Holme House. She looked particularly at prisoners’ perceptions of the impact of their crimes on their victims, the openness of prisoners to engaging in reparative activities, and prisoners’ perspectives on their relationship to the community outside the prison. This paper reports her research findings.
Do Better Do Less: The report of the Commission on English Prisons Today
Evaluation of The Forgiveness Project within prisons
from the article by Joanna R. Adler and Mansoor Mir: The Forgiveness Project (TFP) is a UK based charity that uses real stories to explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can have a positive impact on people’s lives. One aspect of the charity’s work is a programme run within prisons, targeted at the early stages of a sentence.
Experiencing the Sycamore Tree course
from the article posted by Prison Fellowship England and Wales: At the start of this year, I had the privilege of attending a Prison Fellowship ‘Sycamore Tree’ course in a women’s prison. I joined an experienced group facilitator and got to know several women who had committed crimes and were serving time.
victims meeting juvenile offenders face-to-face
Thank you for posting this story from the UK showing that crime victims are increasing asking to meet their offenders in prison. In this case, [...]
Father of Adam Rogers meets son’s teenage killer in prison
from the story by Sam Chadderton in Lacashire Telegraph: Adam Rogers’s father and his teenage killer have come face to face in an ‘emotional’ prison meeting. .... Dave Rogers who has campaigned with wife Pat for an end to senseless violence in their 24-year-old son’s memory, said he would recommend the ‘restorative justice’ process to other grieving families.
Feasey, Simon and Clarke, Rebecca and Williams, Patrick. An Evaluation of the Prison Fellowship Sycamore Tree Programme: based on a statistical analysis of Crime Pics II data.
Within the context of the Sycamore Tree Programme, the questionnaire has been used as an evaluative measure, assessing at both the pre and post programme stages. In doing so a difference measure can be calculated that looks at the degree of change from before to after the programme and therefore can be used to inform about programme impact/effectiveness. Central to the Sycamore Tree programme is the victim empathy area. In this regard, analysis of the V (victim empathy) scale is crucial in terms of evaluating the effectiveness of the Sycamore programme for its participants. (excerpt)
Fellegi, Borbála. Summary of the Central and Eastern European AGIS Project
Between December 2003 and December 2005 the European Forum coordinated an AGIS project focusing on ‘Meeting the challenges of introducing victim-offender mediation in Central and Eastern Europe’ with the financial support of the European Commission. The project involved experts from Albania, Austria, Belgium. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK. In this article, I intend to summarise the main motivations behind starting this project. Secondly, I will give an outline of the Final Report of the project including the main issues discussed. Then some of the conclusions and points for further discussion will be presented. Finally, some of the important elements of the working process will be discussed. (excerpt)
Friskovec, Robert. Mediation in prisons and restorative justice in the Republic of Slovenia.
As already mentioned, in the year 2000, the Criminal Code introduced victim offender mediation as an alternative method for resolving criminal cases. The purpose of this solution was especially to achieve settlements between victims and offenders and between juvenile offenders and their victims. In the year 2007, the first training for mediators in prison was organised which was attended by seventeen employees of the Prison Administration of Slovenia. An advanced training programme for mediators is also being prepared. All the trainings qualify workers in prisons to use mediation in formal and also informal ways in particular cases. (excerpt)
Gunman at my door: How one sentence saved my life
from the article by Prison Fellowship England & Wales: Robert*, a Prison Fellowship volunteer on our Sycamore Tree programme, shares with us how he was determined to turn a few moments of terror at gunpoint into a life-changing meeting of restoration.
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)

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