Jaimee Karroll, IPP's Training, Education, Curriculum and Replication Director, and VOEG Facilitator, participated on the panel discussion titled, "Voices of Community Organizations Sharing Best Practices and Emerging Models". The panel addressed how communities can empower themselves and partner with government agencies to implement restorative justice practices. Following are some excerpted comments from her presentation:
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE IN PUBLIC LIFE TO HELP PROGRAMS LIKE YOURS FLOURISH AND WHAT CAN COMMUNITY DO TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS?
Specific Recommendations Regarding Rehabilitative Programming
Given our 15 year history of providing rehabilitative programming to prisoners, parolees, juveniles and re-entry sites, Insight Prison Project recommends the following:
• A LIFE REDIRECTED: When traumatic history has been processed, crime impact and accountability are fully understood, triggers have been identified and dismantled and an individual has made a commitment to a relapse prevention plan the cycle of violence and exploitation can be interrupted and a life can be successfully redirected.
• FINANCIAL INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION: IPP recommends that CDCR increase the percentage of funds that support education, vocation and rehabilitation within the system. Currently these services are funded at under 3% of the overall corrections budget and reach less than 6% of all those incarcerated in the State of California.
• THE IMPORTANCE OF ADDRESSING THE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF VIOLENT BEHAVIOR: Although IPP supports the inclusion of all programmatic needs identified as necessary to break the cycle of incarceration, we urge incarceration institutions, re-entry sites and communities to consider placing more emphasis on programs which address the underlying causes of violent behavior and the solutions to addressing and un-learning that behavior. If prisoners and formerly incarcerated are to remain out of prison, clean and sober, responsible parents and employees, they must have the opportunity to do the hard and transformative work that goes with addressing the ways in which they have caused harm and they ways in which they have also experienced trauma in their own lives.
• RESEARCH APPROVAL PROCESS: IPP recommends that CDCR streamline the research request process and authorize research projects from greater numbers of program providers so that program effectiveness can be documented and best practices can be applied.
CONCLUSION—FINDING HOPE IN THE MOST UNEXPECTED PLACES
As a survivor of a violent stranger abduction, I believe that my interests are best served when a violent offender is rehabilitated and he is able to join me as a contributing member of society. Inmates dying in prison, does not right the wrong that was inflicted upon me, nor does it honor me. It defies my hope that as a society we are working together to make the world a safer place and ensures that the State, acting on my behalf, will commit the very crime that I experienced over and over by abducting the life of prisoner after prisoner. There is no greater terror then to believe that you will never walk free again, that you will never live among those that you cherish most.
The purpose of the penal system is to punish and rehabilitate. The primary reflection of the Board of Parole Hearings is to determine if a person remains a danger to society. I advocate for the dissolution of arcane forms of punishment that are ‘primarily’ punitive in nature and toward a restorative justice model that can more-fully embrace rehabilitation. We must think about the suffering of all people impacted by a crime, including the prisoner, the victim, their respective families, and the community. Then we must act accordingly: by holding violent prisoners accountable while at the same time asking them to engage in a process that will result in measurable personal transformation. Only then can we be assured that society has become a safer place.