....[E]ach week of the course leads them on into understanding their responsibilities and the paths to restoring their own lives and the lives of the people around them. At the end of each session they return to their cells, and have a week to digest and internalise the work they have done.
When a victim of crime comes to talk to them on week three it is nearly always transformative. They are brought face to face – literally – with the impact crime has, and by implication the impact of their own actions. As Chaplain, I am especially alert this week, as some find this experience overwhelming.
The victim who comes in has been trained by Prison Fellowship to present his/her story without risking themselves. All the people I have heard, speak movingly and honestly about the damage that has been done to them and their family – I have been moved to tears by some accounts – and about their path to their own restoration. All the ‘victims’ who come in have forgiven the criminals who so hurt them. This last element is something the candidates find especially difficult.
....It never fails to take my breath away, not only how far these men – I work in men’s prisons – come in six short weeks, but how jubilant they are in getting there. They know something vital has happened, something which has not only changed them but has the potential to change their lives and the lives of those around them.