(Peace Circle at the California Chowchilla Prison for Women) Things go wrong in prison. That’s a given. The wrongdoing ranges from the minor (tobacco contraband, for example) to the most serious (such as rape and murder). Prisons are overcrowded, hot, and volatile places, where intimidation and violence are the norm. For egregious violations, prison officials […]
In the fall of 2017, I initiated a series of exploratory conversations with present and former Vermont Corrections leaders about developing a fully restorative prison facility. With their consultation and insight, I slowly and steadily designed a fellowship proposal that would have allowed me to work full-time within a single prison facility. Over the course […]
Restorative Justice is clearly a movement whose time has arrived. Wherever you look, there are stories of new and creative applications of restorative principles, which are shaping and transforming the cultures of our schools, communities, and businesses. The sky is the limit. Except for one notable exception: prisons. Here, the walls–literal and figurative–persist.
“The supreme aim of prison discipline is the reformation of criminals, not the infliction of vindictive suffering” (Declaration of Principles, 1870 National Congress on Penitentiary and Reformatory Discipline) Nearly 150 years later, we are still having a debate about the purpose of prisons.
Why is it so difficult to effect change in correctional practices? As the previous blog posts indicated, the research is in and it’s pretty clear. Resources should be prioritized to the higher risk populations; programming should be targeted to address individual risks and needs; lower risk populations should be supervised with less intensity; mixing high […]