Quakers in Criminal Justice

Celebrating Success in the Criminal Justice System

The 2013 conference of Quakers in Criminal Justice took place at The Hayes Conference Centre. Swanwick, Derbyshire, from 22 to 24 February 2013.

Amidst the despair, frustrations, uncertainty and policy swings that beset the criminal justice system, we chose to focus on positive initiatives and processes, not just in England but elsewhere in the UK.

The conference opened with the work of Quaker Service in Northern Ireland, a centre which has made a vital contribution to reconciliation and continues to support those who suffer from the fallout of Ireland’s Troubles. We also had a session on developments in the justice system in Scotland. It was striking that both Northern Ireland and Scotland appear to have rather better established systems of restorative justice, which have become accepted by the communities because they are not being changed every five minutes.

Nevertheless there are many restorative projects in England and Wales, and we had a session giving an in-depth survey of these. Read a summary of the session, or view the slides.

A range of workshops enabled Friends to take a closer look at certain areas; these included Escaping Victimhood,helping victims of homicide to put their lives back together; the Alternatives to Violence programme, a vital contribution to personal development for many prisoners who have grown up with violence, knowing no other way to respond; and the London Shakespeare Workout, using drama techniques to help prisoners to become more articulate, and thereby improve their confidence and self-esteem.