Restorative Justice in a Prison Community : Or Everything I Didn't Learn in Kindergarten I Learned in Prison
Americans are frustrated with prisons. They recognize the need for these institutions, but at the same time, they worry about whether the money used to build and maintain them is well spent. Older prisons are dirty, disgusting, and dangerous, but even newer facilities come up lacking in terms of offering inmates opportunities to take responsibility for their crimes, support their loved ones, further their education, learn job skills, and develop positive relationships in healthy, safe, respectful communities. This book provides insight into the philosophy of restorative justice, which aims to develop ways we can manage our prisons differently to achieve more positive outcomes. Using the case study of an honor dorm in a maximum security prison, the book posits that most of the inmates never learned the basic tools for living life productively and responsibly. They never thought much about their victims or how their actions affected others. They never learned how to get along with others, pick up after themselves, or how to be of service to their fellow man. Swanson uses the writings and reflections of inmates participating in a restorative justice program to demonstrate the challenges and transformative possibilities of this alternative approach to rehabilitation.
- Electronic book text | 258 pages
- 16 Mar 2009
- Lexington Books
- MD, United States
- Illustrations, unspecified
Through interviews and questionnaires, Swanson presents a lively, carefully etched picture of inmates in a restorative justice dorm at an Alabama prison. Recommended. This is the rare book that allows one to use the words "prison" and "hope" in the same sentence. Carefully researched but engaging, it is of value to those outside and as well as those inside our prisons.--Howard Zehr, professor of restorative justice, Eastern Mennonite University We clearly know that what we are doing now in our national correctional system is not working. Bringing victims driven restorative justice into our prisons will lead to lower recidivism rates, safer communities, and the chance for crime victims to heal after violent crime. Projects like this should be tested and piloted, and Swanson's book is an important evaluation of this new approach to incarceration at one correctional unit in the state of Alabama. The question is why aren't we testing similar prison projects nationwide?--Lisa M. Rea, Lisa M. Rea, founder of the Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP), and former director of the Sycamore Tree prison pilot proj Unlike many researchers in criminal justice, Cheryl Swanson has left the ivory tower to observe the day-to-day life inside a state prison and conducted extensive interviews with real offenders and prison staff. Her analysis of the impact of restorative justice on both the inmates and the institutional staff is thus that much more valid. This book should be a "must read" for anyone contemplating a career in criminal justice.--Paul Cromwell, professor of criminal justice, Wichita State University
About Cheryl Swanson
Cheryl Swanson is associate professor in the division of criminal justice and legal studies at the University of West Florida.