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Implementation of the Forum Program in Southern Nevada Prisons

Strahl, Barbara T.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Ph.D. Dissertation, Nova Southeastern University

This action research study examined the implementation of an innovative mediation program – probably the first of its kind – to be available in prisons. Upon release from prison, inmates and their families face a myriad of uncertainties. This study sought to addresses theses issues by providing inmates, who where soon to be released from southern Nevada prisons, the opportunity to participate in mediation with family and their community if they so chose.
This study is theoretically grounded in the literature of restorative justice, mediation, and feminisms. It tells the history of developing and implementing the FORUM (Family and Offenders Reconciliation Using Mediation) program.
Secondary questions stem from implementation and can be grouped into three primary categories:
● the program (How the program was conceptualized and developed. How the program was received.)
● the inmate (What were inmate perspective? How did they decide to use the processes and what issues were raised? Who did they chose to mediate with? Did they consider the process helpful in planning for release?)
● and the families ( Were families willing to participate, why and why not? What issues did they raise? Did hey consider the process helpful in planning release?)
Data for the study came from investigator observations and field notes and questionnaires completed by the inmates and other parties in the mediation.
The voices of the inmates, rarely heard, are privileged. There are shared as they became partners in the process of analysis. Through FORUM it was hoped inmates would improve the quality of their live through community-building, healing, and promoting bonds between and among people. The process itself modeled successful conflict resolution.
Study findings are significant to the justice community in transitioning offenders to the community. The United Nations working definition of restorative justice includes examining and dealing with the impact on the family and reintegration of the offender into the community. Yet, there are no programs in the U.S that speak directly to this issue. Mediation has proved successful with offenders and victims and could contribute to improving transition from prison to community.


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