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Victim Awareness

One use of restorative justice programmes in prison is to raise offenders' awareness of the experience of being victimized. this may involve use of victim panels, meetings with surrogate victims and victim awareness classes. The purpose of these programmes is to help prisoners consider the effects of their behaviour on their victims. As an article below reports, studies show that this can have an important impact on offender attitudes.

One victim awareness programme that is used by an increasing number of national affiliates is the Sycamore Tree Project®. This programme was developed by PFI's Centre for Justice and Reconciliation to offer national affiliates with a way to introduce restorative thinking into their activities as well as into the prison environments in which they work.

For more information on Sycamore Tree, visit here.

Creating prison-based restorative justice projects: A prisoners' guide for getting started. Barb Toews. (2006). The Pennsylvania Prison Society. [EN]
People in prison can be, and often are, restorative justice practitioners. Whether it is helping two people in conflict to talk to each other or supporting a fellow prisoner who has recently experienced the murder of a loved one, incarcerated individuals can carry the healing message of restorative justice. As people who have themselves been offenders and community members and may have been crime victims, prisoners are in a unique position to develop and offer restorative projects. Our experience has also demonstrated that prisoner-developed projects have an added level of credibility, thus increasing participation. This guide offers simple tools for incarcerated individuals and groups to use in creating their own prison-based restorative justice projects. While not comprehensive or definitive, the guide offers questions and suggestions that the reader can use to explore the possibility of restorative projects at his or her institution, taking into account the culture and personality of one’s prison and available resources, including administration support and community relationships. This guide assumes that the reader is already knowledgeable about restorative justice and its basic values, principles and common practices. See the appendix for a list of additional resources to learn more about the philosophy. (excerpt)
Restorative justice: Rebuilding the web of relationships. Resources for restorative justice education in prison. Barb Toews. (2006).
For four years, the Pennsylvania Prison Society’s Restorative Justice Program facilitated prisonbased restorative justice seminars in Pennsylvania state prisons. In doing so, we discovered the potential and challenges of providing restorative justice education in prison for incarcerated individuals. We offer this collection of resources as a way to assist others as they facilitate restorative justice education in prison. While this collection is geared toward all types of educators – community, prison staff and incarcerated individuals – we especially hope that incarcerated men and women find it helpful as they initiate and lead their own projects. (excerpt)
Restorative justice: Rebuilding your web of relationships. A collection of reflections for people in prison. Barb Toews. (2006). Pensylvania Prison Society. [EN]
The following workbook is a collection of restorative justice reflections that was used by the Pennsylvania Prison Society’s Restorative Justice Program. ...This collection includes an appendix with suggestions of ways to use the individual reflections as group activities.
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)
Tranforming Attitudes toward Reoffending (RJOnline) (2005)
The Sycamore Tree Project® is an in-prison programme bringing unrelated victims and offenders together for conversations about crime. The programme allows them to reflect together on the consequences of crime and the steps needed to address the harm that has resulted.
Genuine Remorse (NZ) (2001)
This short article outlines the personal story of a former offender now working with a community based restorative justice initiative. Jackie Katounas has had 138 convictions and spent 12 years in prison, and now works for the Hawkes Bay Restorative Justice Te Puna Wai Ora Inc. in New Zealand. In the first 13 months of work on the Whakatikatika Prison Project, Jackie has raised awareness of restorative justice with offenders already in prison, and she has facilitated 15 conferences with victims. Includes examples of serial offenders for whom restorative justice experience has brought a positive outlook to their lives.
Sycamore Tree programme: ‘a journey for them all’ (NZ) (2004)
A community-based restorative justice programme that involves groups of crime victims meeting with groups of offenders is to be introduced to prisons in Palmerston North, Wanganui and Invercargill over the next six months. The Sycamore Tree programme, run by the Prison Fellowship of New Zealand, has been operating successfully at Hawke's Bay Prison for the last three years.'We've had glowing feedback from our participants,' says Jackie Katounas, who has been facilitating the programme in Hastings. The Department of Corrections is funding an extension of the programme into Manawatu Prison from August, Wanganui Prison from September, and Invercargill Prison from November. The voluntary programme involves groups of six inmates and six victims of unrelated crimes coming together for eight two-hour sessions. (excerpt)
Victim Impact: Listen and Learn
Victim Impact consists of 13 units, built around 10 core crime topics: property crime, assault, robbery, hate and bias, gang violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, drunk and impaired driving, and homicide. The basic precepts of the Victim Impact Curriculum are: 1) Victims and the impact of crime on them are the focus; 2) Victims' personal experiences are the centerpiece; 3) Victims deserve to have their rights enforced and their voices heard; 4) Anyone can become a victim of crime; 5) Victimization creates a “ripple effect” throughout the community; 6) Offenders have the opportunity to change their thinking and their behavior; and 7) Offenders have an obligation to make amends to their victims, directly and indirectly. (excerpt)
A How To Guide for Victim Impact Panels: A Creative Sentencing Opportunity
Manual discussing the use of victim impact panels to raise the awareness of prisoners/offenders about the impact of particular crimes. This guide focuses on drunk driving.
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