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CJR News

Short articles highlighting PF national affiliate justice work.

Awesome things happen when people come together
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.
So how do you know that an offender means it when they say sorry?
From the blog by Dave Walker of PF England & Wales: This is a question I have been asked quite a bit when I tell people about the final session of the Sycamore Tree programme. It is not an easy question to answer when you are talking to someone who has never visited a prison and has grown up with a media-fed, cynical and unqualified view of prison life. I will attempt to answer it for you here and I’m sure you will tell me if I have made a hash of it.
A Different Culture—A Different Outcome
When Johnny joined PF New Zealand's faith-based unit he was shocked at the difference in culture. Here he had a name instead of a number, and he felt valued not for being tough but for just being himself.
Promoting APAC in Bolivia
In December 2010, PF Bolivia joined its partner organization Progettomundo MLAL for a conference on restorative juvenile justice. The objective was to promote alternative models of working with juvenile offenders. To this end, PF Bolivia coordinated the participation of Dr. Paulo Carvalho, PF Brazil board chairperson, to provide an overview of the APAC methodology.
What is a reconciliation village?
From the Prison Fellowship Rwanda December Newsletter: There is nothing that speaks to the power of forgiveness like the Reconciliation Village: Perpetrators and victims who came face-to-face during the brutal events of the genocide have chosen to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and commit to living out the future together in peace. They have, in fact, gone beyond forgiveness. They have made a choice not only to move forward, but also to move forward together as neighbors and friends. This extension of forgiveness is the essence of reconciliation. It seems impossible. It is, without God’s presence in the hearts and minds of Rwandans. It is God’s grace, provision, and love now reflected in the lives of the villagers that make these communities grow and thrive. Reconciliation is the key to restoring Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide.
Prison Fellowship Rwanda delivers the message of restorative justice to hundreds of Rwandans
From the article on the PF Rwanda blog: The principle of restorative justice (RJ) is changing the face of criminal justice systems worldwide. It is a global movement, shifting the focus from punishment to restoration. The ideas underlying RJ are particularly applicable and influential in Rwanda, where the harm caused by genocide crimes remains vast and pervasive. Restorative justice, often held in contrast to “retributive justice,” emphasizes post-conflict peace centered on reconciliation rather than post-conflict peace centered on fear. RJ holds that victims, offenders, and the community-at-large each play a part in delivering justice. Without participation from these three stakeholders, it is impossible to mend the wounds caused by crime. While crime may be an action committed against the state, it is most importantly an action committed against the individual and against the community.
Restorative justice news from PF New Zealand
Restorative justice is a major thrust of Prison Fellowship New Zealand's work. Here are a few snippets from the ministry's December 2010 newsletter, InsideOut.
PF Mexico Offers Restorative Justice Training
At the invitation from the Instituto de Formación del Poder Judicial del Estado de Guanajuato (Training Institute of the Courts of the State of Guanajuato) PF Mexico offered a seminar on restorative justice as a part of a diploma course on alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Approximately 70 judges, magistrates, lawyers and other actors from Guanajuato’s court system attended the training led by PF Mexico executive director Angeles Flores Lara on 8 and 9 November 2010.
PF Niger providing hope through legal assistance
For several years, PF Niger volunteers have gathered information on prisoners with various legal needs and shared these with a team of legal advisors. Once the information is compiled, PF Niger representatives visit the courts to gather further details on the case. If the matter is simple, the representatives will try to resolve the issues. If this is not possible, the ministry calls upon a team of Christian lawyers to represent the prisoners in court.
Prison Chaplains Reach Inmates by the Thousands With the Gospel
From the PF Rwanda website: December 16 was a day of great celebration and sharing for Prison Fellowship Rwanda. All 15 prison chaplains, each dedicated to bringing programs for transformation and growth to prisons within a certain administrative sector in Rwanda, met together at the PFR office. The chaplains celebrated the Christmas season, shared stories, exchanged ideas, reflected on successes, and discussed their respective programs in detail. Each chaplain spoke at length about his or her experiences over the past several months.
Forgiveness at landmark Norfolk prison course. Annabel Valentine. (2010). Network. The Norwich and Norfolk Christian Community Website.
From the article by Annabel Valentine: A Christian-based restorative justice course has been run for the 1000th time in a UK prison, at Wayland Prison in Norfolk, and included the extraordinary story of forgiveness of a couple whose teenage son was murdered nine years ago.
1000th Sycamore Tree - Restorative Justice programme changes prisoner’s lives
From the announcement on the PF England & Wales website: Prison Fellowship’s restorative justice programme Sycamore Tree achieves a milestone today (14th December) when the 1000th programme is completed.
Evaluation of the Faith Based Unit and Target Communities programme.
From the evaluation prepared by Strategic Analysis & Research, Department of Corrections (New Zealand): An evaluation was undertaken recently by Strategy, Policy and Planning on the Faith-based Unit (FBU) at Rimutaka Prison and the associated “Target Communities” (TC) programme that assists prisoners with community reintegration.
Sycamore Tree Project®: Interview with Lyn Connolly
In this 23 minute video, Lyn Connolly describes her experiences going into prison to tell her story of being a crime victim as a part of PF England and Wales' Sycamore Tree programme. She recounts the powerful emotions of describing receiving the news of her son's murder for the first time and how the men in prison responded.
Encouraging STP Facilitators in New Zealand
Earlier this year, PF New Zealand brought together seventeen facilitators for a Sycamore Tree Project® conference. The event provided an opportunity for discussing issues, sharing experiences and resources, and training. Along with the interaction among the facilitators, the event also featured speakers from PF New Zealand management.
Using Sycamore Tree to Build Partnerships for Reintegration in Hungary
At the request of a friend, Vidia Negrea attended the final session of a Sycamore Tree Project® session run by PF Hungary. During the session, the participants talked about their experiences in the programme including the apology letters the prisoners had written to their direct victims. Listening to the stories, the restorative justice practitioner thought she could help the prisoners take more steps toward repairing harm by delivering the letters to the direct victims.
Sycamore Tree Project® Launched in Italy
On Saturday, 6 November, members of the recently chartered PF Italy facilitated their first Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) session in Milan’s Opera Prison.
Inside Rimutaka's faith-based unit
From the article by Nikki MacDonald in the Dominion Post: It's a topsy-turvy world where a killer is held up as a role model of morality, Mongrel Mob and Black Power gangsters sit tattoo to tattoo and talk about their feelings and the weapon of choice for settling scores is the gospel according to St Matthew, chapter 18, verses 15 to 17.
Prison Official On OverCrowdedness At Prison
From the article in The Inquirer Online (from Liberia): The Coordinator of Access to Justice and Legal Aid in Liberia has criticized the over crowdedness of prison centers across the country. Rev. Francis Kollie attributed the situation to the lack of access to justice and poor justice system in Liberia.
Volunteers even more important in bid to reduce re-offending in prisons
From the announcement on the PF England and Wales website: More volunteers are being recruited to help run Prison Fellowship’s restorative justice programme Sycamore Tree as work in prisons becomes even more reliant on trained volunteers.
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Sycamore Tree Project

Communities of Restoration

Restroative Justice Online

PF Justice Reform Around the world

RJ City