The almost 30 participants included the warden and the executive of Balassagyarmat Prison, educators, inspectors, psychologists and other staff from the prison, the educators of Tököl Juvenile Prison, social workers, civilians, teachers, etc.
The 24 hours long interactive training that went on three days focused especially on the applicability of the theory and practices of restorative justice in the prison settings, being the first and only training in Hungary to do so. The training included several role plays by which participants became able to facilitate and mediate conflicts between inmates, between inmates and their victims as well as between inmates and their family/community members. By the end of the training the prison staff created the restorative justice protocol within the prison, ie. the systemic framework within which a one year long pilot project will operate in the prison until November 2011. By this protocol, victims, offenders and their families of serious crimes will have the opportunity to take part in different dialogue processes.These encounters will help victims in asking their questions, requesting reparation, apology and maybe forgiving, while offenders will have the chance to face their responsibility in an active way, offer reparation and apologise to those who they have harmed.
This pilot aims to help the involved victims and offenders influenced by a serious crime to put the suffered trauma behind themselves, and move on in their lives.
At the end of the training, all of the participants filled out evaluation sheets about the training. The results of these sheets show, that 80% of the participants were very satisfied with the training (5 points out of five), while 20% were satisfied (4 points out of 5).
The material of the training will be available in the future, both in Hungarian and in English.
On the 21st of October, 2010, a press conference was held about the training, with the participation of MTI (Hungarian News Agency), Magyar Rádió (the national radio station of Hungary), Magyar Nemzet (a weekly newspaper), Nógrád Megyei Hírlap (a county newspaper) and the local televison.
The press report of the conference can be downloaded in Hungarian here.
Dr Marian Liebmann has worked at a day centre for ex-offenders, with Victim Support, and in the probation service. She was director of Mediation UK for 4 years and projects adviser for 3 years, working on restorative justice issues. Since 1998 she has been working freelance as a consultant and trainer, with Youth Offending Teams, mediation services and prisons in the UK. She has also undertaken work in several African and East European countries, including training 180 victim-offender mediators in Serbia and Montenegro. She is also an art therapist and runs ‘Art and Conflict’ and ‘Art and Anger Management’ workshops. In 2005 she received a special merit award of the Longford Prize for her pioneering work in art therapy, restorative justice and mediation. She has written/ edited 10 books, including Restorative Justice: How It Works. In July 2010 she received her PhD at Bristol University, by published work. Recent restorative justice work has included training residents on a housing estate in South Bristol, research on domestic violence and restorative justice in Cardiff Prison, and three presentations at the UN Crime Congress Ancillary Programme in Brazil in April 2010.