Locked up in lockdown: the Quaker prison chaplains reaching out
17 April 2020 by Marleen Schepers
Quakers envisage a justice system that is transformative – a system that tackles the complex problems British society faces in a constructive, economically sustainable way, with the focus on the prevention and the healing of harm.
We strongly advocate restorative justice because it seeks to balance the needs of the victim and the community with the reintegration of the offender into society.
Our unequal and unjust society creates the conditions for crime to thrive. People harmed by crime are often poorly served by the UK dependency on policing, prosecution, and punishment. Those who have done harm suffer in this system, and it does not serve the families and friends of those caught up in it either.
Many Quakers see the criminal justice system as harmful because it increases rather than decreases inequality and injustice. Quakers have a long-standing stance against the use of imprisonment as the default response to wrong-doing. It rarely prevents the repetition of an offence, and many people in prison are not a threat to the public.
The high costs of our prisons, courts and police reduces the resources available to support individuals, communities and society to make the choices and changes that are necessary for a peaceable world.
Quakers in Britain challenges legislation that puts greater emphasis on punishment than on rehabilitation, and meet with the UK government Ministry of Justice several times a year. Taking the views and experiences of Quakers to decisionmakers is a key part of the work.
We welcome the transformative approach to reducing knife crime that has been piloted in Glasgow. Karen McCluskey of the Glasgow Violence Reduction Unit explains in the TED talk below.
Quakers in Britain have joined with over 100 others to sign a letter from INQUEST and Women in Prison to the Prime Minister. The number of people in detention settings needs to be reduced significantly because it is not possible in these settings to follow government advice on COVID-19. See the letter on INQUEST's website.
Quakers in Britain are active in a coalition calling on government to temporarily end short term sentences. This is because current early release measures affecting a maximum of 4000 people in prison will not sufficiently ease overcrowding and allow advice from Public Health England to be followed. Find out more on the Revolving Doors website.
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The Social Justice Subcommittee produces briefings to inform Quakers about various aspects of the criminal justice system.
A briefing to inform and encourage Quaker action in providing practical support to the families and friends of someone who is in prison.
Read the 'families and friends' briefing here (PDF).
A briefing to help Quakers who wish to engage with their Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales and with the Police Authority in Scotland. Read the guidance here (PDF).
Get acquainted with the basics of restorative justice - what is it, who practices it, and what impact does it have on communities and criminals? Read about restorative justice here (PDF).
A directory of contacts for restorative justice organisations, plus tips on getting started in supporting restorative justice work. Read the information here (PDF).
Despite the widespread use of prison sentences in Britain, it is not always clear why people are sent there. We have produced a framework for discussion to explore the purposes, effectiveness and experience of imprisonment as a response to criminal actions. We encourage you to use this framework as a starting point for discussion in your Quaker meeting. Read Why Prison? (PDF).
Printed copies of these briefings can be ordered at no charge. Please email us at email@example.com to request what you or your Meeting require.
A staff member is available to come and facilitate a Transformative Justice workshop for your Area Meeting and interfaith guests. To request a workshop, contact Teresa Parker at Teresap@quaker.org.uk.
17 April 2020 by Marleen Schepers
Crime, Community and Justice Programme Manager
020 7663 1073