Restorative Justice in the Prison Setting

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RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

IN THE PRISON SETTING

Dr Andrew Coyle

International Centre for Prison Studies
King’s College

University of London

United Kingdom

A Paper presented at the conference of the
International Prison Chaplains Association (Europe)

Driebergen
The Netherlands

13 May 2001

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE IN THE PRISON SETTING

Dr Andrew Coyle

International Centre for Prison Studies
King’s College

University of London

United Kingdom

A Personal Context

I would like to begin by thanking you warmly for inviting me to join you today. I have watched with great interest and admiration the growth of the International Prison
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I saw prison officers exercising great professional care and understanding in their dealings with fractious mentally disturbed men. I saw prisoners who, when given the opportunity, were only too willing to help the old, the young, the infirm, people who were worse off than even they were[i].

All of these experiences left me with the question, "What is this thing we call the prison?" I found myself re-echoing the words which Vaclav Havel, now President of the Czech Republic, wrote to his wife, Olga, when he was a prisoner:

I never feel sorry for myself, as one might expect, but only for the other prisoners and altogether, for the fact that prisons must exist and that they are as they are, and that mankind has not so far invented a better way of coming to terms with certain things[ii].

The Reality of Imprisonment

These experiences left me with another question, "What is the future of the prison?" At the beginning of a new millennium we have the opportunity, as with so many other elements in our society, to ask why things are as they are, and whether there is perhaps another and better way of dealing with things. It is worth reminding ourselves at the outset that the prison is a relatively modern concept, having been with us in its present form for
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