Source: (2000) Paper presented at the Women in Corrections: Staff and Clients Conference convened by the Australian Institute of Criminology in conjunction with the Department for Correctional Services SA and held in Adelaide, 31 October – 1 November.

Essentially a chaplain’s role is to be a confidential and non-judgmental listener to prisoners, believing in them as valuable human beings deserving of our utmost respect and dignity. Given that most of the women prisoners I encounter in prison have experienced in their lifetimes a stripping of their self value and respect, this function of a respectful and non-judgmental listener is paramount for the nurturing of the women’s innate potential for change, healing and positive life contribution for themselves and for others. This function is an important ingredient that fosters the work of restorative justice. Ultimately from a chaplaincy perspective, restorative justice is about working towards mending a three-fold relationship rift: a rift within offenders/prisoners; a rift between offenders/prisoners and the offended community; and a rift between prisoners/offenders and their families. In religious terms, the process of mending this three-fold rift is about reconciliation. For chaplains restorative justice is the practical implication for the spiritual foundation of all major Faith traditions by the very nature of the function of religion. The aim of all religions is the aim of building Integrity - i.e. the task of binding together in wholeness what is separated. The practical implications of this common raison d’être are outlined in the chaplains’ tasks, which lend themselves more to the positive building values of restorative justice rather than punitive justice.