It’s a gift to be able to make a difference in another person’s life. This is my experience as a volunteer facilitator for Full Circle Restorative Justice of Salida and the Insight Prison Project, serving men incarcerated in the Buena Vista Correctional Facility.
During my career as a pilot with FedEx Express, I was trained and provided mediation services for pilots through our union, the Air Line Pilots Association. After I retired from flying and moving to Salida, I still had a desire to volunteer, and that’s how I found FCRJ.
I completed the facilitator training taught by Patty LaTaille, who is deeply dedicated to this program in our community.
From my participation in a handful of RJ “circles,” I have come away with a profound sense of the power of this process to give victims a voice, educate and hold offenders accountable for the impact of their actions, and because people from this community are facilitating the process, the RJ process works to repair harm done and strengthens relationships.
I have to say that working with inmates at the prison in BV has been one of the most meaningful acts of service I have ever experienced. We facilitate a 12-week group of 10 men. The men selected for these groups have shown personal motivation toward positive change and growth in their lives. Many are motivated because they have wives and children on the outside. All because they have discovered through examining the abuse, violence and chaos of their childhoods, that the way these affected their patterns of behavior can be undone.
The level of vulnerability, empathy, support and insight I’ve experienced from these men is truly profound.
In this group work, the men are asked to examine shame and guilt, healthy communication, transforming anger, punishment versus discipline and impact of their offense on their victims, to name some of the subject matter.
The work as facilitator is grounded in compassion, active listening and continuing to be consciously aware and present.
I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to work with these men and to witness the growth, wisdom and deep reflection and self-awareness that is evidence of their strong desire to create positive behavioral changes for themselves going forward.