Offenders and victims come face to face

  • The Prison Farm holds a restorative justice meeting.  (Photo by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

    The Prison Farm holds a restorative justice meeting. (Photo by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

Inmates and victims of crime were congratulated yesterday for completing the Sycamore Tree Programme.

The initiative, launched in Bermuda last September, brings inmates face to face with the victims of crime to both help the victims deal with their ordeal and the offenders understand the impact their actions have had.

Sheridan Scotton of the Prison Fellowship said: “It’s really about human relationships, so it’s very foundational.

“We talk about what is crime, we talk about responsibility and then we discuss admitting and turning around from your behaviour. Then we talk about forgiveness, which is key for moving on for the victim. We then think of ways to make amends for the offence, and finally towards reconciliation, which is the goal of the Sycamore Tree.

During the brief ceremony a total of eight inmates and victims were honoured for completing the programme, praising the initiative for giving them an opportunity to share their experiences.

One inmate, who asked not to be identified, said: “I came into this class an unforgiving person, but this class helped me to learn how to forgive. You have to learn to forgive yourself before you can forgive others.”

Another prisoner said the class was enlightening, giving him a reason to stop and reflect on himself.

“It has enabled me to let down my barriers. I really didn’t let people in. It’s enables me to look into myself and realise that I can share myself with others, that I can open up and share my story, which is something I usually don’t do.

“Most importantly, it has helped me to learn how to listen, because sometimes I only hear what I want to hear.”

Commissioner of Corrections, Lt Col Edward Lamb also sung the programme’s praises, saying: “I think this is an excellent part of what we in Corrections are all about. Yes, on one hand there is custody and providing a secure environment, but that has to be balanced with restoration and redemption.”

He added: “We expect people that commit an offence to carry that offence around their neck like a millstone for the rest of their lives, and that’s not healthy for anybody. At some point there has to be forgiveness, and there has to be some healing.”

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Published Mar 26, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 26, 2015 at 12:39 am)

Offenders and victims come face to face

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