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Stories from Latin America

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Sycamore Tree Project® launched in Brazil
On 28 October, PF Brazil held the final celebration event for the first Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) to be run in the Masculine APAC in the city of Itauna. During the event, the six participating victims and six participating prisoners (called recuperandos in APAC) shared about their experiences :
Updates from Brazil
More states and municipalities in Brazil recognise the importance of humanising the prison system and embrace the APAC methodology as a strategy for doing so. A quick look at the PF Brazil website shows a list of 79 APACs in the state of Minas Gerais and a total of 11 more in five other states.
APAC Costa Rica
APAC Costa Rica first opened in May 2006 with 20 recuperandos – as prisoners are known in the APAC methodology -- in the Centre de Atención Institucional Cartago. Three years later the programme moved to a different province where more prisoners could participate. In early 2013, APAC Costa Rica operated in the Centro Semi Insitucional San Augustin where the programme can house 80 recuperandos.
Sycamore Tree Project® and Rape in Bolivia
Recently, PF Bolivia completed its sixth Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) course. This time, after much prayer and preparation, the course focused on prisoners who had been sentenced or detained for rape of a minor. Despite the sensitive nature of the theme and setbacks with the participants, the facilitators report a powerful experience with the prisoner participants showing empathy for their own victims.
Working with Juvenile Offenders in Bolivia
In late 2012, the PF Bolivia chapter in Oruro piloted a victim empathy course called, “What have I done?” for young offenders. The course, adapted from the original English by volunteers, uses various activities to help young people understand the impact of criminal or harmful behaviour and to begin taking responsibility for their own actions.
Community Service in El Salvador
In late 2011, PF El Salvador signed an agreement with USAID to provide community service opportunities for young people in conflict with the law. To fulfil the agreement, the ministry organised several worksites where the young people cleaned up abandoned lots and constructed a security fence. Involvement of local community volunteers alongside those young people serving community service formed a key part of the projects.
Restorative Justice in Costa Rica
On 26 and 27 July, Prison Fellowship International’s Dan Van Ness participated in two events organised by the Costa Rican Supreme Court of Justice to promote the country’s efforts to implement restorative justice programming. His participation resulted from an invitation made to PF Costa Rica to be part of the initiative.
PF Brazil explores the Sycamore Tree Project®
Known for the APAC prison management methodology, PF Brazil constantly seeks to improve their work in serving prisoners, their families, and crime victims. To this end, the ministry began incorporating more elements of restorative encounters into their work with victims and prisoners over the last few years. As the next step in this progression, PF Brazil decided to implement the Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) within the APAC prisons.
PF Colombia launches APAC
On 27 April, Prison Fellowship Colombia initiated an APAC-based unit with ten participants in Medellin’s El Pedregal Women’s Prison. First developed by Prison Fellowship Brazil, the APAC* methodology creates a humanising environment inside prison to foster rehabilitation and transformation of participants.
PF Nicaragua providing legal services for prisoners
In 2011, PF Nicaragua formed the Defensoría Social to provide legal counsel to prisoners who may have completed sentences or earned the possibility of release through various legal mechanisms. A team consisting of three volunteer lawyers and eleven law students identify qualifying prisoners and bring their case before the courts.
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