Changing the culture of criminal justice
Justice Action sees restorative justice and mentoring as the way forward with social problems. Both are rational extensions of community support which satisfy the needs of victims and make us all safer. But the prison industrial complex is fighting tooth and nail to keep its hostages, and us all afraid. New 4th Edn Handbook (pdf 1.4mb)
This project strikes at the heart of the punitive justice system. It is profoundly radical and human in that it returns power to those who care and want to make a difference. The Mentoring Handbook is a history of the project, documenting the experience of work since 1984. It became structured as a TAFE course with additional specific modules called JA Mentoring. Click to download the JA Mentor's Handbook 4th Ed pdf 1.4mb. Hard copy $10 plus post. A DVD is available of the first graduation. All purchases/support look right.
Prisoners and exprisoners are some of the best people to offer support to other people caught up in the justice system. While some 'programs' offered in jail and on release can be useful, many suffer from being delivered by people who have little understanding of the effect of life in jail. They are also delivered in a context where the client has little control or choice other than to cop it sweet or jack up against the system.
Mentoring, on the other hand, is about building a relationship of mutual trust, friendship and support within which help, advice and assistance can be offered as part of the process of re-building a life after being labelled a criminal and where many barriers actively prevent return to normal life.
At Breakout/Justice Action we have many years of experience in this field. We provide advice and support to prisoners in jail. We have had hundreds of people working with us on Community Service Orders since we became an agency in 1984. We have set up and run half-way houses and created long term jobs for people who have been able to use their experience and knowledge of life after prison to help others. After we supported the women at Emu Plains Prison with their visits, we were banned and our twenty three years work as the leading Community Service Order agency have been halted. We are renegotiating that now and the other JA mentoring has been continuing.
What we now want to do is to build on this with a more structured project for mentoring. This project will aim to provide practical mentoring for people whose lives have been disrupted by jail and the courts. It will also aim to force the justice system to acknowledge this mentoring as a critical part of the processes of rehabilitation/ reintegration of offenders and as a viable part of our campaign for alternatives to prison.