Restorative Justice in Prison: It’s About Time
Don’t think restorative justice belongs in prison? Think again. Some of the best in-prison restoraive justice programs are operating today whether you know it or not. Two great examples: the Sycamore Tree Project, a model restorative justice program created by Dan Van Ness of Prison Fellowship International’s Centre for Justice and Reconciliation. Dan is sometimes referred to as the “father” of restorative justice with Howard Zehr called the “grandfather”.
Sycamore was first tested in Texas in 1998. I know because I was the director of the first pilot. Sycamore since that time has been replicated throughout the world (some 30 countries) with great success. Another excellent program is Bridges to Life located in Texas and directed by crime victim/survivor John Sage. Bridges is an organization that runs an in-prison restorative justice program similar to Sycamore. In fact, Sage was one of the first victim participants of the Texas pilot in 1998. He was so enthused about Sycamore he created Bridges to Life now being used throughout the Texas prison system.