How Norway turns criminals into good neighbours!

The BBC has recently published an interesting article about how the prison service in Norway has been working with prisoners, communities and local groups to support people serving sentences and on their release from prison.

The article poses an interesting question. “What is the point of sending someone to prison - retribution or rehabilitation?” I wonder what you think…

Twenty years ago, Norway moved away from a punitive "lock-up" approach and sharply cut re-offending rates. The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby went to see the system in action, and to meet prison officers trained to serve as mentors and role models for prisoners. You can read the full article here. The prisons in Norway have been working hard to engage people in their system and focus on rehabilitation. Rates of re-offending (called recidivism) have dropped dramatically following this change of policy and practice in prisons.

  • Are you interested in making a better future for men and women leaving prisons?

  • What could you or your church do to make a difference and help us all become better neighbours to each other?

There are lots of organisations in the UK who support this kind of work, The Prison Fellowship is one such charity. Find out about their work and how you can get involved here. As a first and crucial step, perhaps you could share this month’s prayer from the Prison Fellowship in your churches and house groups.

You also may be interested in finding out more about The Welcome Directory. This organisation plays a key role in resettlement of men and women into Faith Communities. You can read more about their vital work and find out how your church can get involved HERE.

When I was training for prison chaplaincy twenty years ago, I had the privilege of working with the St Giles Trust to support prisoners in learning skills to become peer listeners and resettlement workers. I hope and pray that the men I worked with, in those times, went on the support many others in gaining in confidence and improving their self-esteem, so they went on to become good neighbours to others.

Sara Iles, Free Churches Group

“For God has not despised my cries of deep despair. He’s my first responder to my sufferings,

and he didn’t look the other way when I was in pain.

He was there all the time, listening to the song of the afflicted.”

Psalm 22:24, The Passion Translation

Photo courtesy of Mathyas Kurmann at Unsplash