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CJR News

Short articles highlighting PF national affiliate justice work.

Confronting the Harm in Bolivia
Working with offenders of homicide and manslaughter, PF Bolivia’s second Sycamore Tree Project® course dealt with strong emotions related to grief, guilt and taking responsibility. It also proved to be a journey of changed thinking for many. Early in the course, one facilitator reported her surprise as many of the participants seemed to focus on themselves and their families as the victims although their crimes had a clearly identifiable victim. Yet, the situation changed as the daughter of a murder victim shared her story.
Transforming Lives and Attitudes in Zambia
“Words alone cannot express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to you as a team of the Sycamore Tree Programme and the entire Prison Fellowship Zambia for taking this life transforming programme to Kamfinsa inmates,” wrote a group of participants from PF Zambia’s most recent Sycamore Tree Project® course held at Kamfinsa prison.
Meeting the people behind the statistics. (Clinks News. Issue 4) 2008.
Women offenders are working together with the victims of crime in a major drive toward restorative justice. Since October 2000, almost 800 women have participated in Prison Fellowship’s victim awareness programme, Sycamore Tree. (excerpt)
PF Hungary to Launch an APAC-based Prison Unit
Inspired by the APAC methodology developed by PF Brazil, PF Hungary has secured permission to launch an APAC-based programme for juvenile offenders. The new programme will work with sixteen prisoners in one section of a prison located about thirty kilometres north of Budapest.
Fourth “Lives in Transition” Course Starts in Port Phillip Prison
In late March, PF Australia-Victoria commenced the fourth Lives in Transition course to be held at Port Phillip Prison. The programme offers participants the opportunity to develop a new value system to help them address previous thought patterns and offending behaviours. Course elements include education, mentoring, volunteer support, reintegration with family, reintegration with the community and assistance with employment and housing after release.
Young Voices Change Prisoners' Perception of Crime
Victims and Offenders Learn from each other
The Sycamore Tree Project in Guam.
Expressing Repentance and Forgiveness in the Ukraine
In early February, volunteers from PF Ukraine delivered a video taped message of repentance and apology to the victim of one of the inmates with whom the ministry is working. In the initial contact, the volunteers encountered anger and pain from relatives of the victim who had sustained three serious knife wounds during the crime. One of the volunteers present said that there weren’t words to describe the atmosphere they encountered as the family both expressed hatred and showed signs of aggression.
Diverting Juvenile Offenders Away from Courts in South Africa
In response to prison overcrowding and the negative impact of incarceration on young offenders, PF South Africa launched a juvenile diversion project known as The Fig Tree Project. Targeting first-time, non-violent offenders and students in danger of expulsion from secondary school (grades 8-12), the Fig Tree Project offers a community alternative to incarceration.
News from Norway
PF Norway will graduate the participants from the course of the New Life programme designed to help prisoners with six to twelve months left on their sentence for re-entry. This represents the end of the three-year pilot project agreement with the prison administration.
Inner Change for Freedom for Belize Turns Six
On 11 February 2009, the Inner Change Freedom for Belize (IFFB) programme celebrates its 6th anniversary. The 18-month programme operating at the Belize central prison provides participants a structured environment in which to learn new ways of thinking and life skills.
APAC Itauna Hosts the 15th Journey to Freedom in Christ Workshop
From 4-7 December 2008, 90 participants from the three regimes of APAC Itauna participated in the Journey to Freedom in Christ Workshop (called the Jornada). For many, the Jornada -- an intensive retreat including presentations, time for prayer, and various other activities – is considered a highpoint in the APAC methodology.
Renovating Lives and Buildings
For a small group of young offenders in Germany, rehabilitation means a work trip to Romania. Three years ago, these men opted to take part in PF Germany’s alternative prison unit, Seehaus Youth Farm, rather than spending two to three years in prison for their minor offences.
Focus on Reform and Prisoner Rehabilitation in Mozambique
In October, the National Prison Service of Mozambique held a two-day, multi-stakeholder workshop exploring the issues of prison reform, prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration. The goals were to raise awareness and advocate for a new approach that would include both government and civil society organizations working in partnership. In the spirit of such partnership, PF Mozambique took on an organizing role with the workshop and drew upon contacts and resources of other PF national ministries.
Sycamore Tree Project® Training in Swaziland
On 11 and 12 November, PF Swaziland hosted a STP training seminar for volunteers, church leaders and magistrates. The two-day seminar, conducted by a team from PF South Africa, provided an overview of restorative justice, an introduction to the issues related to implementation, and an explanation of the STP sessions.
PF Bulgaria “Adaptation Environment” Programme
Through its “Adaptation Environment” programme, PF Bulgaria provides prisoners with religious education, conflict resolution training, life skills courses, and vocational training. Currently, the programme operates in Vratsa Prison serving repeat offenders for six months prior to their release.
Open Court in Prison
For years Prem Kumar, executive director of Prison Fellowship Malaysia, has watched remand prisoners languish in prison as they await trial. Recently, Prem shared his concerns about the situation of 332 remand prisoners with a friend visiting his home. This friend, a former deputy public prosecutor and current Manager of Sabah Courts, decided to see what could be done. He asked Prem to use his role as a Visiting Justice (position created in the Malaysian prison legislation to inspect prisoners) to ask these remand prisoners if they wanted to plead guilty. As a result, the first Open Court session in prison was held on 15 October.
PF Bolivia Launches the Sycamore Tree Project®
“We are really enjoying Sycamore Tree,” was the opening line of a recent e-mail from Julie Noble, a volunteer with the PF Bolivia chapter in Oruro. Launched on October 4, this first pilot project has enthusiastic support from both the prison administration and the volunteer facilitators. The prisoner participants were recruited from among the parents of the children who attend the ministry’s Angel Tree Centre since there is an existing relationship with them.
APAC Brazil Receives Government Support for Expansion
A few months ago, PF Brazil and the Tribunal of Justice of the State of Minas Gerais signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of nine new APAC Social Reintegration Centres (name given to most APAC facilities) and the expansion of two existing facilities. These 11 new units will add 1,070 spaces to the Brazilian Prison System.
New Programme Taps Prisoners’ Creativity
PF Netherlands continues to see growth among the prisoner participants in their Sycamore Tree Project® for youth, known as SOS (Spreken over Schuld). One prisoner participant recently noted that it has been difficult to think about the harm he has caused others and the bad choices he’s made, “but, I kept coming to SOS, and now I am glad I did,” he says.
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