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.
But there is a better way, and it’s called restorative justice.
Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the result are transformational.
This approach 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.
Through our Centre for Justice & Reconciliation, we’re committed to God’s vision for a world made right. We’ve been reforming justice for more than 20 years
The Centre promotes several groundbreaking initiatives that reflect restorative justice principles and values:
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.
SYCAMORE TREE PROJECT® JUSTICE AND PEACE
Building off Sycamore Tree Project®, this program guides small groups of prisoners through eight sessions where they reflect on and discuss confession, responsibility, forgiveness, making amends, and reconciliation. Each session includes video interviews from the perspective of victims and offenders; these are a powerful discussion starter for prisoners. Victims join prisoners for two sessions to share their stories in person. Prisoners then explore ways of making restitution for harm caused by their crimes. Run jointly by Prison Fellowship International and national affiliates, we aim for 135,000 prisoners to graduate the program by 2022.
PUBLIC POLICY REFORM
Through our Centre for Justice & Reconciliation, we work with and on behalf of our national affiliates to influence decision-makers to adopt restorative justice public policies.
- Rwanda Project: Designed to help Prison Fellowship Rwanda help prisoners accused of genocide to meet their victims, survivors, and community members.
- Colombia Project: Designed to help Prison Fellowship Colombia put on their country’s first national symposium on restorative justice.
- United Nations Basic Principles of Restorative Justice: The Centre was a key NGO leader in the successful effort to have the United Nationals adopt guidelines for implementing restorative justice programs.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE WEBSITE
The Centre manages a top-ranked website on the topic of restorative justice, including tutorials, stories of impact, and a virtual library of public restorative justice articles.
We provide the Restorative Justice Online Library (restorativejustice.org) and an International Diploma in Restorative Justice in collaboration with Queen’s University in Canada.