~~* Paul's Justice Blog - launched July 4 *~~

Faith-Based Resources for Reducing Crime and Violence


N e w   D i r e c t i o n s   i n   C r i m i n a l   J u s t i c e

New research and experimental projects are challenging established paradigms of inmate management, justice and prison rehabilitation. Corrections 2020 is a forum for tracking emerging trends, with an emphasis on the growing body of evidence that supports a faith-based approach. This section features resources and online documents detailing developments in the field of Criminal Justice.

This page was originally created by Martin Howard of IGM Designs, who put together the Restorative Justice.org site. He was nice enough to share this page containing faith-based justice resources, which I have edited to fit on StopViolence. The original page is part of Prison Fellowship - Australia.

Recommended Reading: Restorative Justice

Research: Religious Programs and Recidivism

Research paper by Byron Johnson. This study examines the impact of religious programs on institutional adjustment and recidivism rates in two matched groups of inmates from four adult male prisons in New York State. Inmates who were most active in Bible studies were significantly less likely to be rearrested during the follow-up period. (Justice Quarterly)

The Sycamore Tree Project

The Sycamore Tree Project is an intensive 8-12 week in-prison programme that brings groups of crime victims into prison to meet with groups of unrelated offenders. They talk about the effects of crime, the harms it causes, and how to make things right. Sycamore Tree Project has become a core part of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, PFUSA's APAC replication.  It has also been tested it in New Zealand and in England. In each instance it has been highly successful. Victims and offenders tell us it has been life changing.

The programme was named after the story in Luke 19:1-10 about Jesus and Zacchaeus, a dishonest tax collector. Zacchaeus came to see Jesus but couldn't get through the crowd. So he climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view. Jesus noticed him and stopped to talk. Out of that meeting came something unexpected; Zacchaeus repented and agreed to pay back his victims. Jesus then helped the crowd understand the reconciling power of biblical (restorative) justice. 

Angel Tree

All too often, the forgotten victims of crime are the little children of inmates, who are left without a father or mother -- through no fault of their own. We all pay the price for this: the evidence is clear that children with a parent in prison are six times more likely to end up in prison themselves someday. Angel Tree(r), a ministry of Prison Fellowship(r), attempts to help break this cycle of crime.

Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation

After a murder, victims' families face two things: a death and a crime. At these times, families need help to cope with their grief and loss, and support to heal their hearts and rebuild their lives. From experience, we know that revenge is not the answer. The answer lies in reducing violence, not causing more death. The answer lies in supporting those who grieve for their lost loved ones, not creating more grieving families. It is time we break the cycle of violence. To those who say society must take a life for a life, we say: "not in our name."

The InnerChange Freedom Initiative

In April 1997 Prison Fellowship embarked on the boldest experiment ever undertaken by a prison ministry. At the request of the State of Texas, we launched the first-ever, 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week Christian prison program at the Carol Vance Unit near Houston, TX. The InnerChange Freedom Initiative™ (IFI) is a revolutionary, Christ-centered, Bible-based prison program supporting prison inmates through their spiritual and moral transformation beginning while incarcerated and continuing after release.

Examining the Idea of Church-based Prisoner Reentry (Urban Institute)

Faith-based initiative section of Re-Entry Blog: A Daily Magazine of Transition from prison news, insight and best practice. 

They recently noted: "Like many of you, we have taken special interest in the apparent successes of faith based initiatives in and out of prisons around the country. We even have a seperate category dedicated to the topic. Today, we present an alternative view to the success of faith based programs from Mark Kleiman, Professor of Policy Studies and the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA. He claims in this article from Slate.com that Faith Based Programs actually don't work. Then why are multiple studies showing success? Kleiman claims, "one of the oldest tricks in the book, one almost guaranteed to make a success of any program: counting the winners and ignoring the losers. The technical term for this in statistics is "selection bias"; program managers know it as "creaming." He goes on to suggest that technical reviewer Anne Piehl of Harvard University calls this instance of it "cooking the books.""

Religion For A Captive Audience, Paid for By Taxes, by Diana Henriques (NY Times 10 Dec 2006). Since articles in the Times disappear behind a pay wall quickly, I'll point out some nice links they had to background in the Iowa case, Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries. 

I Told My Son's Killer: I Forgive You (The Guardian/ UK): The story of a mother whose meeting with her son's killer worked to heal her pain. The story also discusses other justice initiatives worldwide and the theory behind them.

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God and the Victim: Theological Reflection on Evil, Victimization, Justice & Forgiveness

Overview of Faith-based involvement in social services

Wisconsin Legislative Counsel Staff: Background Information on Faith-Based Approaches to Crime Prevention and Justice (1998; 38 pages, acrobat.pdf) From the Special Committee on Faith-Based Approaches to Crime Prevention and Justice page

Faith-based initiatives page from Public / Private Patrnerships

Sept 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows


The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice.org's Chapel

American Friends Service Comittee

Center for Progressive Christianity

Church Council on Justice & Corrections

Sister Helen Prejean, 'With A Human Being About to Be Killed' in the AFSC magazine Peacework

Sister Prejean's Dead Man Walking

Just Peace



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