RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: THE PATH TO PRISON REFORM

Healing the ripples of harm caused by crime is not easy, but that is the challenge the Prison Ministry Project of the United Church of Christ in Wisconsin has taken on to fix a broken criminal justice system. While politicians campaign on being “tough on crime” and accuse opponents of being “soft on crime,” Rev. Jerry Hancock, director of the Prison Ministry Project says that “smart on crime” is what we desperately need.

On this program, Rev. Hancock describes how the Prison Ministry Project uses Restorative Justice guidelines to work inside the walls of Wisconsin prisons.  Here they bring together offenders, surrogate victims, and the community to talk together openly and honestly in an effort to heal the harm caused by the crime. The programs are non-sectarian and have no explicit religious content.

Also on All About Living tomorrow is David Haskin, a founder of the Wisconsin Prison Mindfulness Initiative. Using effective mindfulness-based interventions with prisoners, prison staff, and prison volunteers, this initiative is focused on transforming individual lives as well as transforming the entire corrections system to mitigate its destructive impact on families, communities, and society as a whole. 

Both Restorative Justice programs are directed toward creating a criminal justice system that genuinely and intelligently focuses on public safety and harm reduction rather than punishment or revenge.