RESTORATIVE JUSTICE IN ACTION – A PRISON OFFICER’S EXPERIENCE June 2021 saw Make Amends offer a two-week work placement to Rebekah Stringer, a Prison Officer from HMP Bullingdon. Hear more about her experience with the team and how she found restorative justice. My name is Rebekah and I’m a Prison Officer on the Unlocked Graduate Scheme. I’ve been working in HMP Bullingdon for the last 2 years – a local remand prison located in Oxfordshire. I’ve had the pleasure to undertake a work placement with Make Amends for the last two weeks. Restorative justice has been something which has always fascinated me, so I jumped at the chance to work with such a fantastic organisation. During my placement, Soo (Service Manager) and the team have helped me to expand my knowledge on restorative justice (RJ) but also with other areas that help support prison leavers. I’ve participated in a wide number of meetings with various people and providers, ranging from the South West Criminal Justice Network to Konnect, CASSPLUS to the South West Domestic Abuse Providers Forum as well as Devon and Cornwall Police. It was great to see a multi-agency approach which is unified and collaborative. Each person I met with spoke with such passion about the field they work in. It was inspiring to hear about all the fantastic work these services and people are involved in. I had the opportunity to speak with an RJ Champion – who is an ex-offender and is currently in the process of becoming more involved with restorative justice. He hopes to use his experiences to inspire and help others move away from a life of crime. Having the opportunity to hear real life stories and experiences surrounding RJ helped to reaffirm how important it is for changing people’s perceptions and the lives of others. Furthermore, I had the chance to participate in an RJ Facilitator Training event where I learnt so much about how practitioners are trained and how they handle such complex cases. I have learnt a number of skills I can’t wait to take back and use in my current job role. I was given a project to work on during my time on the placement which I presented to the Make Amends team. The aim of the project was to explore the ways in which staff, senior leaders and offenders could engage with restorative justice within the prison environment – in particular at my own establishment. The project could provide ideas to help Make Amends (and other RJ organisations) gain better access the prison estates in raising awareness of restorative justice. There are four main areas in which it could be implemented: RJ programmes Face-to-face conferencing Mediation on the residential units After the adjudication process These are some of the ways in which prison staff – or external practitioners – could implement RJ in the prison estate: Approach Governors and Custodial Managers (CM) – particularly those who are concerned with reducing reoffending or safer custody RJ campaign around the prison Promoting restorative justice week Staff awareness training Identify staff RJ champions Form partnerships with local practitioners This work placement has given me hope and inspiration that restorative justice can have such a significant impact on the lives of others. I will be taking away so many ideas that I hope to one day bring into the establishment I work in. In summary, restorative justice can and should flourish within the prison environment much like it does within the community. Thank you to all at Make Amends. I hope to one day be as inspirational in the field of RJ as you all are. If you’d like to find out more about Make Amends and Restorative Justice, do visit our webpage: RESTORATIVE JUSTICE or call 01803 222033.