Peter Woolf is a very good person who spent many years in prison during a chaotic period in his life. Since turning his life around through restorative justice Peter has become one its leading advocates. Below is an interview about his change.
Before the interview, this wonderful film charts the process through which he turned around. Below that you’ll find the interview.
I spent most of my life, both in my childhood, and, also my adult life involved with some form of criminal activity, I’m not sure as to the psychology of it, it was just how it was. In the later years drugs and alcohol became serious drivers, but having said that, if drugs and alcohol had been removed from the equation the criminal acts would still have been there.
What changed? it definitely wasn’t a bolt of lightning piercing my heart. The fundamental thing, I suppose, were feelings. Various people around the world have formed an opinion about the `change` that took place. Most of those I’ve never met, say “God came into his life” or “it was the Restorative Justice process”, and even “it was because he stopped taking drugs”. I was none of these, yet it was a little bit of all of these.
In my case it was not RJ, that was the catalyst, but it was not that. Nor was God anything to do with it, my relationship with my God began many years later. Getting clean and sober was probably the springboard, but a 12 step program is most likely the real source of my metamorphosis.
My best thinking brought me to my knees> It took me to 18+ years locked up in prison, sent me on a nightmare of a journey that began with abuse, and ended in total squalor. So, for me, once i had been given the tools, it was easy to turn my back on that life.
Restorative Justice is a simple concept.
Basically, it brings together the harmed and the harmer, the victim and the criminal, the good guy and the bad guy.. simple. But the preparation that is done in order for the harmed and the harmer to come together, meet, and go through a well prepared, respectful face to face meeting, is, anything but simple. In my view it is The Coming Together of Minds… metaphorically, the harmed says to the harmer “pleased you are here, I am going to spend time sharing the pain you gave me with you”. Powerful.
I do believe that more needs to be done at government level, increasing funding to police, prison and the voluntary sector, along with better thought out drug strategy. None of the aforementioned can really work though without an increase in social housing, good work/education opportunities for those both in and out of jail, and most importantly, the involvement of a solid, understanding support network.
There are many success stories in the RJ world, victims, facilitators, supporters and harmers have all benefited from the process.