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Ecclesiastes 3:4 ‘…  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

For the last three years I have been involved in a Restorative Justice program. I have been part of the program at two different prisons and have seen first hand how restorative justice can work. Being a victim of crime, I share my experience of the long road to recovery, the financial and emotional burden on myself and the family, and the personal victory that came about through sheer hard work on my part.

The course runs once a week for 7 or 8 weeks, and involves a select group of 10 -15 prisoners and a group of around 7 victims of crime. Each week stories are shared and for all of the prisoners, this is the first time they have heard from the perspective of a victim.

As you can imagine, there are some heartbreaking stories on both sides, and tears have flowed from the most unexpected people. After I told my story one morning, one of the prisoners left the room in a bit of a hurry. Minutes later one of the other prisoners came to get the Chaplin who went and spoke with him. When they both came back, the prisoner asked to speak to the group. He said he was aware that many of the participants knew he was a bit upset outside, and he wanted it to be known that after hearing my story, it was the first time he’d ever wondered what his victim had gone through and thanked me for telling my story.

…a time to weep and a time to laugh… The emotional roller-coaster of this course is often peppered with laughter too. That’s what makes our stories so special.

DJ

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