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Group Meeting - July 7th 2014

The Woking Group's meeting in July welcomed Gillaine Holland, who is the chaplain at St. Columba's House in Woking. She has also been Prison Chaplain at HMP Send. 

She spoke to us about restorative justice, a subject she became involved with after the murder of her husband in 1993. Gillaine talked about her experience and how she realised that the victims of crime are completely ignored by the criminal justice system.  Her feelings were given no weight at all by the police, the media or the courts (this has improved since).

She has recently become involved with a scheme which attempts to confront prisoners with the impact of their crime on victims. Interestingly, she said most prisoners have never given this a thought - their guilt has been because of the impact on their own friends & family.  The week when they are forced to confront the effect of their crime, many are put on suicide watch.

The course is vastly over-subscribed in prisons and does have a huge impact.  She said it was quite easy to tell when prisoners were just playing along (these were few).  The numbers of prisoners who have attended the course who go on to re-offend is much lower than the general prison population.  The scheme is very cheap to run because it is staffed by volunteers, but (of course) is about to be cancelled due to lack of funding.

We also to time to celebrate the number of events we've had in the last few weeks:
- a street stall
- a quiz night
- 2 successful school talks
- a stall in the Lightbox

Our school speakers team visited 2 secondary schools and have spoken to over 200 pupils about Amnesty.  These talks take an awful lot of preparation, so our thanks go to Jan, Peter, Steph and Tim.

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