Restoring Justice

CJR Logo_051216

Criminal justice systems in most countries are in trouble:

  • Millions of prisoners are held in crowded, debilitating conditions as they wait for trial. The system moves slowly—some prisoners wait for trial longer than the maximum sentence they could receive if found guilty.
  • The system does not rehabilitate people who are convicted of crime. Once released, most will re-offend within five years.
  • Victims of crime are generally ignored except when needed as witnesses in criminal prosecution. They receive little help to recover from their trauma.

All of this calls for a new approach to criminal justice—one that emphasizes relationships, accountability, human rights, about-restorative-justice healing, and transformation.

Restorative justice is a global movement offering this new approach. At Prison Fellowship International, we are convinced restorative justice is an important contemporary expression of biblical justice.

Restorative justice has been shown to reduce costs within the criminal justice system, lower repeat offender rates, reduce post-traumatic stress in victims of crime, and increase the number of cases brought to justice.


Our restorative justice initiatives include:

Centre for Justice & Reconciliation. The Centre promotes two groundbreaking programs that reflect restorative justice principles and values:

STP logo with leaf

Sycamore Tree Project®. Based on the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus in the Book of Luke, the tax collector who agreed to repay people he had cheated, this project brings victims into prisons to meet with offenders and discuss issues related to crime and its consequences. The program is used in 34 countries with more than 3,500 victims and prisoners participating. Research shows it changes offender attitudes so they no longer view crime as acceptable.

Read stories of men and women who have found hope and healing through The Sycamore Tree Project®.

Communities of Restoration. These are 24-hour, 7-day-a-week intensive prison regimes operated by Prison Fellowship International affiliates around the world. They are designed to reduce offending behavior through character-focused, faith-based programming. Prisoners learn to participate in responsible, giving, trust-filled relationships.


Public Policy Advocacy and Education

The Centre also engages in activities to influence decision-makers who create public policy. Examples of our advocacy include:

  • Rwanda Project—a program to help Prison Fellowship Rwanda prepare prisoners accused of genocide to meet their victims, survivors, and community members.
  • Colombia Project—the first national symposium on restorative justice for justice system officials.
  • United Nations Basic Principles on Restorative Justice—The Centre played a key role in developing these principles and lobbying for their adoption.



We provide the Restorative Justice Online Library ( and an International Diploma in Restorative Justice in collaboration with Queen’s University in Canada.

Back to top