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Stories from the Pacific

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Celebration of Healing: Report from the Sycamore Tree Project® – Pilot at Acacia Prison
28 people, both men and women, sit in a circle facing inwards. It is morning. Among them, dotted about in random fashion, are 9 men in green, the clothes marking them out as prisoners. We are in a large classroom, a cross and some stained glass windows identifying this as a chapel. The location - Acacia private prison - a loose block of buildings, 50 kilometres East of Perth, heavily fortified by razor wire indicating its maximum security classification. Around us are the living and working quarters of about 750 inmates (this is the largest of WA’s prisons) and a large number of security personnel. It is Friday 11th November 2005. There are smiles and an atmosphere of peace, confidence - even of joy - among those present.
Evaluating the Sycamore Tree Project®
In November 2005, Prison Fellowship New Zealand released a new evaluation of the effectiveness of the Sycamore Tree Project® (STP).
Sycamore Tree Success
A restorative justice programme involving face-to-face meetings between prison inmates and victims of crime is proving so successful it is to be expanded into eight prisons around the country this year.
Murder in the Faith-Based Unit
At 10.30am, Thursday, 4th April a profound event occurred in the faith based unit at Rimutaka Prison, which shook both staff and inmates to the core. It was at that time that an inmate was found dead, with a garden fork through his throat.
Faith-based Prisons: An Innovative Path Towards Offender Rehabilitation
‘He Korowai Whakapono’, the faith-based prison unit at Rimutaka Prison, provides inmates with a Christian programme emphasizing spirituality and moral development, with the aim of rehabilitation and reduced re-offending.
Sycamore Tree Programme: A Journey For Them All
Prison Fellowship New Zealand is actively workign with the Department of Corrections to expand the Sycamore Tree Project. This article originally appeared in Te Ara Whakatika: newsletter of the court-referred restorative justice project, Winter 2004, number 22.
PF New Zealand – The first Sycamore Tree Project® in the Faith Based Unit
Five victims of crime and five offenders took part in this inaugural STP in the Faith Based Unit. PFNZ staff member Jackie Katounas ran the programme along with David and Karina TeHira who will run subsequent STP at Rimutaka Prison. I have attended quite a number of STP Celebration events and I hear similar things comings from both offenders and victims. Let me share with you some of the comments that were shared with the assembled guests at the FBU this morning.
Faith-based Prison Rehabilitation
An innovative New Zealand prison unit is using prayer and spiritual transformation as a means to reduce prisoner re-offending. The Faith-Based Unit at Rimutaku Prison is the first of its kind in Australasia and represents a unique Christian approach to rehabilitating convicted criminals.
Transforming Faith
Prison Fellowship in Wellington is proving that, despite initial scepticism from others, it is possible to build a sense of Christian community behind bars. The transformation which has been occurring within the hearts and minds of inmates since the faith-based unit at Rimutaka Prison in Upper Hutt opened last October, was evident after an unforeseen and tragic murder which happened there some weeks ago.
Focus on Victims Provokes Discussion
An address by Waitakere Restorative Justice Community Group chair Chris Marshall about the responsibilities of churches towards the victims of crime provoked much discussion at Prison Fellowship of New Zealand’s recent 20th anniversary conference at Waikanae.
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