In the afternoon we attended SORI, the restorative justice programme.
SORI aims to encourage victim empathy in offenders and motivate them to change their offending behaviour and take responsibility for the harm they have caused. It consists of a four-day victim awareness course, and introduces the principles of restorative justice.
The course includes role-plays in group-work settings and individual exercises. Prisoners who attend meet volunteers who have suffered similar crimes to those they committed themselves, as well as individuals from the wider community. Towards the end of the course, each prisoner makes a public statement in which they take responsibility for their offence and commit themselves to specific tasks as a way of making amends.
Annabel and I found it a very moving experience talking with and listening to offenders as they faced up to the implications of their crimes on the lives of others. Prison staff seemed very positive about the programme, reporting that, for some participants, it made a real difference and helped reduce the chances of re-offending. Jill Parker who runs the programme is always looking for members of the public to become involved – she only needs you for an afternoon and I would encourage you to volunteer. Email Jill on Jill Parker firstname.lastname@example.org.