We envision a future in which restorative justice is the normal response to crime. For this to take place, there must be changes in perspectives, policies and practices. Prison Fellowship International works to promote restorative justice practitioners, especially those focused on offenders, and encourage wider adoption of best practices that lead to more restorative outcomes. We equip more than one hundred partner ministries around the world to develop, advance and promote the timeless principles of justice and reconciliation in their criminal justice systems.
Changing Perspectives About Justice
A growing number of people support restorative justice, but many more have yet to learn about it or may question its appropriateness. We provide a number of ways to help them explore restorative justice as an alternative perspective on justice in the aftermath of crime.
Changing Justice System Policies
For restorative justice to be the normal way of responding to crime, criminal justice policy barriers must be removed, and new policies implemented to encourage its use. We engage in reform projects to incorporate restorative policies in justice systems, with a special focus on offenders and the communities they’re tied to (their families, home communities, and churches).
Changing How Victims and Offenders are Treated
Our programs provide victims with support in the aftermath of crime, create in-prison communities of restoration for offenders, and bring victims and offenders together in conversation about crime and justice.
Prison Fellowship International launched its innovative Sycamore Tree Project in 1996, which is based on the biblical concept of shalom.
In this initiative, prisoners and unrelated victims meet in an encounter to discuss the crime, its impact, and how to repair the harm. Participants study the Book of Luke over eight, small group sessions, while discussing concepts of responsibility, repentance, and making amends. Studies show that offenders who go through the course have significant changes in attitudes so they no longer view crime as acceptable, making it less likely they will re-offend once released.
The program vision for STP is two-fold: graduate 150,000 prisoners from the program by 2025 and for at least 90,000 of those graduates to continue on to an additional discipleship program. Since inception, more than 53,000 prisoners have graduated from this course, and more than 5,000 victims have participated. Currently, it operates in nine countries -- Nigeria, South Africa, The Gambia, Zambia, Lebanon, Spain, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay.
Communities of Restoration are based on an innovative methodology (called the “APAC Methodology”) developed in 1972 by Prison Fellowship Brazil. APAC (the acronym for 'Association for the Protection and Assistance of the Condemned or Convicted') is a unique, powerful, community-based experience in prison reform that has been celebrated and replicated worldwide.
PFI conducted a multi-year research project in the late 1990s with the goal of expanding the groundbreaking program to other countries and cultures. Currently, 45 APAC prisons in Brazil and 10 Prison Fellowship affiliates outside of Brazil run APAC-based Communities of Restoration. And many more are working to adapt and apply specific APAC best practices within their own cultural context.
Prison Fellowship International worked directly with the United Nations for more than seven years, serving members of the UN NGO Alliance on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice from 1995-2002. PFI led a working group that drafted and advocated for the UN Declaration of Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters.
These efforts resulted in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopting the Declaration in 2002.
Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair 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 results are transformational.Donate Now