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Restorative programmes in the prison setting are being used to help inmates understand the impact of crime on victims and the community and provide victims an opportunity to ask questions of their offenders and find their own path toward healing.

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.
'US Should significantly reduce rate of incarceration,' says new report
from the article on Given the minimal impact of long prison sentences on crime prevention and the negative social consequences and burdensome financial costs of U.S. incarceration rates, which have more than quadrupled in the last four decades, the nation should revise current criminal justice policies to significantly reduce imprisonment rates, says a new report from the National Research Council.
A second chance at Curt's Cafe
from the article by Susan Du in The Daily Northwestern: Curt’s Cafe, 2922 Central St., is an unlikely crossroads for the two: Trieschmann hires at-risk young adults, particularly those with criminal records, providing them with hard-to-find job training and work experience. The non-profit restaurant is one of the only adult ex-offender re-entry programs in a city that focuses most of its re-entry resources on at-risk youths. Trieschmann said the road to opening the experimental business was far from smooth, with some neighbors concerned about the business drawing former criminals to Central Street. Still, it’s an experiment that restorative justice advocates and even Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said is worth a shot.
A view from behind bars: School of Theology and Ministry exhibition showcases artwork by American prisoners
from the article in The Boston College Chronicle: An exhibition of more than 40 works of art that depict images of grief and hope created by men imprisoned in American jails and penitentiaries will open at the School of Theology and Ministry on March 15. “Seeing the Man: Art From Behind Bars, A Vision of Restorative Justice and Healing” will be on display through April 30 in the Atrium Gallery of the STM Library, located at 117 Lake Street on Brighton Campus. The works of art are provided by Do-Right Ministries, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the American justice system and promotes healing through art.
An outcome evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative
from the research brief produced by the Minnesota Department of Corrections: To evaluate the effectiveness of the InnerChange program for male inmates at MCFLino Lakes, the DOC examined recidivism outcomes among 732 offenders released from prison between 2003 and 2009. There were 366 offenders who participated in InnerChange, had their recidivism risk assessed, and had been released from prison during the 2003-2009 period. Offenders whose recidivism risk had been assessed and had been released during the 2003-2009 period, but did not participate in InnerChange, were matched to those in the InnerChange group on commonly-known risk factors. Multivariate statistical analyses were performed to further control for other factors besides InnerChange participation that may have had an impact on recidivism. These measures were used to ensure that any observed differences in recidivism between the 366 InnerChange participants and the 366 offenders in the comparison group were due strictly to participation in InnerChange.
Anderson, Samantha and Karp, David R. Vermont’s Restorative Reentry Program: A Pilot in Burlington’s Old North End
The Vermont Department of Corrections (VDOC) has been one of the pioneers of restorative justice in the United States. VDOC continues this role with the application of restorative principles to their reentry program. A basic component of this effort is to modify Vermont’s reparative board model to organize community volunteers more effectively for participation in restorative justice panels. A restorative justice panel consists of community volunteers who meet with offenders reentering society. Community members provide advice and support for offenders on reentry. Samantha Anderson and David Karp review a pilot program for a restorative justice panel in the Old North End of Burlington, Vermont, a district with high crime rates and a significant number of released offenders.
Another road to justice
from the article in Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: The group of men listens, mesmerized, as Lynn BeBeau talks about the last time she saw her husband alive. "I told him the same thing I always did: `I love you. Be careful.' " Her husband grinned back. "Honey, don't worry about me. Me and God are like this." He held up two crossed fingers and smiled. Hours later, the Eau Claire police officer was shot to death in the line of duty. The hulking men in prison greens sit perfectly still as BeBeau fights back tears. They are murderers, armed robbers, drug dealers, child molesters.
Art helps heal crime's wounds
from the article by Howard Zehr in the Philadelphia Inquirer: I admit it. Sometimes I have Philly envy. Philadelphia has a Mural Arts Program, and the community in which I live does not. ....I have been drawn to the arts as a way of reframing the challenges of crime and trauma. The arts can engage the whole person to express or understand the harm done and help harness heart and intelligence to reduce isolation. The arts can provide a way to explore what can be done to give back, and to give voice to the full range of human experience. The act of creation can restore a sense of meaning and agency to those who harmed and those who have been harmed.
Teaching Empathy
I am in the process of creating a curriculum for teaching empathy and am having a difficult time locating materials. I was wondering if anyone [...]
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.
Baltimore's oldest black cemetery finally restored, with help of inmates
from the article by Justin Fenton in the Baltimore Sun: ....After decades of neglect, interrupted occasionally by well-meaning but ultimately fruitless cleanup efforts, the cemetery in South Baltimore was officially rededicated Monday, due in large part to the labors of an unlikely group: state prison inmates. As part of a program to put those serving time to work on meaningful projects, more than 40 prisoners have worked on the four-year effort to transform the cemetery's 34 acres.
Blomquist, Todd. Restorative Justice – Reflections on Dialogue
At the time of writing this reflection, Todd Blomquist was a resident of the Restorative Justice Unit at Grande Cache Institution, Alberta, Canada. Here he shares aspects of his personal journey into crime, as well his experiences in prison, particularly his exposure to restorative justice ideas and values through peacemaking circles at Grande Cache Institution. He credits these circles with his growing awareness of the impact of his crimes and his lifestyle decisions on himself and on others. He expresses the growth and hope he has gained from restorative justice ideas, the circles and peer support in the Restorative Justice Unit, and the welding career he is learning while incarcerated.
Boodell, David and Schwartz, Sunny. Dreams from the Monster Factory.
Dreams from the Monster Factory tells the true story of Sunny Schwartz's extraordinary work in the criminal justice system and how her profound believe in people's ability to change is transforming the San Francisco jails and the criminals incarcerated there. (From publisher's description)
Brady, Kat and Sakai, Ted and Walker, Lorenn. Restorative Circles: A Solution-Focused Reentry Planning Process for Inmates
This article describes a pilot programme in Hawaii using restorative circles in creating transition plans for inmates.
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.
Bridges to Life: A Promising In-Prison Restorative Justice Intervention
Bridges to Life is an in-prison restorative justice programme that facilitates meetings between offenders and unrelated victims. This article is drawn from a paper by Marilyn Armour, assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. The complete article is attached.
Burns, Heather. Citizens, Victims & Offenders Restoring Justice Project: Minnesota Correctional Facility Lino Lakes, September-November 2001.
The Citizens, Victims, & Offenders Restoring Justice Project was designed to bring together crime victims, offenders, and community members to address the causes and consequences of crime in personal dialogues. The project at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Lino Lakes took place over three months. Dialogues occurred in a circle process with the assistance of facilitators. Facilitators even shared personal experiences related to incidences of violence or loss in their own lives. Participants completed surveys before and after the project to measure desired outcomes, and the meetings were audio-taped with the consent of the participants. Organized into case studies, this document presents the key findings of the project based on the completed surveys, tapes of the meetings, and observe notes.
Burns, Heather. Citizens, Victims, & Offenders Restoring Justice Project: Minnesota Correctional Facility for Women at Shakopee, September 26-November 21, 2000.
The Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee is the only correctional facility in the state designed to house adult women felons. The Citizens, Victims, & Offenders Restoring Justice Project at MCF-Shakopee was a nine-week pilot project designed to bring crime victims, offenders, and community members together to address the causes and consequences of crime in personal dialogues. Dialogues occurred in a circle process with the assistance of facilitators. Participants completed surveys before and after the project to measure desired outcomes. This document presents the key findings of the project based on the completed surveys.
Advance Mediation Paper
Great story, I'm using it in my advance mediation paper!
Colorado mother wishes for meeting with son's killers
from Ivan Moreno's article in the San Francisco Chronicle: The 3-year-old boy affectionately known as "Biscuit" was sleeping in the back of a parked old Cadillac when the shooting began. Fourteen bullets hit the car in the drive-by shooting outside a northeast Denver duplex. Biscuit was shot in the head and died. His brother, Calvin, four days shy of his 7th birthday, and a teenage cousin were unhurt. Sharletta Evans — mother of Biscuit, or Casson Xavier Evans — came to forgive the gunmen, who were 15 and 16 years old at the time of the Dec. 21, 1995, shooting. But it took years for her to decide she wanted to meet them in prison, hoping for closure. A new Colorado law encourages the state Department of Corrections to facilitate such reconciliation meetings. Yet it's a process that requires they be safe and don't backfire on victims. And prison officials say there's simply no money to make it happen in the near future.

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