Victim Awareness in Prisons
What We Do
For the past ten years Ray and Vi have been speaking to prisoners who have committed crimes ranging from petty theft to murder in nearly every prison up and down the country and including Northern Ireland.
They speak to around 20-30 men/women and youths about their crime and how the ripple effect not only affected them and their family but the community and the families of the people that killed their son.
Again this is a hard hitting talk and we have seen many men and women change and even the hardest of them are reduced to tears when Ray and Vi tell their story.
For too many inmates this could be the first time they meet a victim as to most of them victims are a piece of A4 paper and faceless, so when victims like Ray and Vi sit in front of them and talk about their crime they start to see a human who has been hurt by people like them, and maybe for the first time they start to think about their victims and family and the harm they have caused to the community and they then start to think about how they can change when they get out.
Many say they didn't understand their action they had on their victims and for many this is the first time they have even thought of their victims.
Many say they won't reoffend after hearing a victim's side and hopefully they will keep their word. Please log onto letters from inmates to read the effect Ray and Vi's story had on them.
Also Ray and Vi was asked to speak at HMP Grendon where they talked to the whole wing about their son's murder, the men were so affected by their talk that some of the men after hearing our story has adopted the Chris Donovan Trust charity.
They also composed and recorded a CD for the Chris Donovan Trust Charity. The group is called "Sense of PURPOSE", the CD is Called "IN REMEMBRANCE OF".
To find out more about this CD please click here.
Letters from Prison Governors and staff
The Chris Donovan Trust have made a significant contribution to promote restorative justice and victim empathy at HMP Grendon and many other prisons.
HMP Grendon is a therapeutic prison where the men who have committed very serious offences work intensively over a long period of time in order to understand what they have done, how they came to that point and how they can change so that they do not offend in the future. This often involves facing up to the harm they have created as well as those they themselves have experienced. The prison is uniquely successful and research has demonstrated that residents have reduced levels of violence and self harm in custody and are less likely to re-offend after release.
Representatives of the charity, in particular Ray and Vi Donovan have attended a number of events at Grendon and spoken about the murder of their son, the impact upon their work with the perpetrators of the crime. Their experiences have done much to encourage our residents to understand and explore their offences and the impact upon others. These events have included wing based 'Victims days' which focus on the experience of victims, and prisons wide events where victims and perpetrators have spoken about their experiences of offences and the aftermath.
Indeed Ray and Vi's work has inspired a series of events which have brought victims of crime together with residents, included the family of a knife victim, and an event focusing on gang violence,which included the organisation 'Mothers for Justice'. Residents have also used creativity such as music, poetry, writing, and drama in order to explore these issues. It is Ray and Vi. and the Chris Donovan Trust who have initiated and inspired this work.
An example of the ways in which the Chris Donovan Trust has had an impact day to day, is in how one community changed how they conduct their introductions. When community members introduce themselves to visitors in meetings. they previously had said their name. their offence and length of sentence but following a 'victims day' they decided that they would also say the name of the victim of their offence. This is a way in which the experiences of victims have become more prominent in the practice and thinking of the therapeutic community.
I am aware that the Chris Donovan Trust have been involved in the promotion of Restorative Justice conferences between individual offenders and their victims. This has expanded significantly over the past two years and their work has helped to build support for this.
The Chris Donovan Trust is a charity which successfully promotes restorative justice and victim empathy. By doing so they inspire organisations and individuals to develop a more effective and humane approach to criminal justice and they help individuals to confront their past and build a more positive future.