Keeping them out of prison: A restorative justice education intervention with prison inmates in Lesotho
This research project involved planning and implementing a restorative justice education programme with prison inmates in Lesotho aimed at restoring their self-worth and dignity, and to evaluate its outcomes. The project began with focus group discussions with first-time offenders, repeat offenders and ex-inmates to identify the main challenges faced by ex-inmates. It was found that these were stigma, rejection by their families and communities and the harsh socio-economic environment. The study then utilised restorative justice education materials from a South African NGO, Phoenix Zululand, which were translated into Sesotho and modified to suit local conditions. The programme involved discussion groups led by a facilitator and culminated in a conference involving inmates and their families held shortly before release. An evaluation conducted 12–18 months after release found very positive outcomes for the ex-inmates and their families concerned but there are reasons to be conservative in what is claimed in terms of programme success.
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