Parkland Restorative Justice and Saskatchewan Restorative Justice have partnered together to host a Zoom Meeting with Compassion Prison Project founder Fritzi Horstman in an attempt to improve how Saskatchewan prisons rehabilitate inmates.
Parkland Restorative Justice executive director Kerry Reimer said current methods to reduce crime aren’t working. He’s hopeful Wednesday’s meeting will help bring new ideas to the table that focus on seeing inmates as people who may have traumas or struggles preventing them from living healthy lives.
“Most offenders are getting out at some point,” Reimer said during a phone interview on Monday. “They’re back on the streets, and we don’t want them back in prison. We want them to be healthy contributing members of society in our neighbourhoods when someone gets released…. Demonizing them is far from a solution, unless you’re going to lock them up and keep them locked up.”
Reimer said most anti-crime measures focus on building more prisons or hiring more police officers. He said those solutions are short-term fixes at best. Instead, he wants to see more of a focus on trauma, and how healing it can actually prevent criminal activity.
“I want people to be aware that inmates are human beings,” he explained. “It’s very much a human rights approach and a viewpoint that taking down these barriers of ‘us and them.’ So often we separate people like inmates, and dangerous offenders and make them into animals.
“Personally, I spend one-one-one time with these guys fact to face. Fritzi Horstman does that as well, and we are able to see them as human beings who have endured horrific traumas, horrendous traumas, in their early childhood.”
Originally, Reimer hoped to have two local speakers attend the meeting along with Horstman to talk about restorative justice from other perspectives. That included an Indigenous advocate who’s worked with the Elizabeth Fry Society, and a psychologist who specializes in trauma. Unfortunately, Reimer said, they didn’t have time to finalize everything before the meeting date.
However, he’s confident viewers will gain plenty of insight from Horstman.
“Fritzi brings passion and knowledge as a trained and experienced documentary filmmaker,” Reimer said. “Since 2018, she’s become passionate through personal experience with trauma, and some inmates suffer from this trauma as well.”
Reimer added that there is room for additional conversations after Wednesday’s Zoom presentation. However, Parkland Restorative Justice is still planning their next move.
“Maybe this can be a first step, and we can look at the interest it creates, the feedback that it gets, and go the next step,” he said.
Wednesday’s Zoom presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. For a link to join the meeting, visit the Parkland Restorative Justice Facebook page, or visit their website at www.parklandrestorativejustice.com.