Rehabilitation in the community serves the offender – Marina Cantacuzino (Founder of the Forgiveness Project and Ambassador of Make Justice Work)

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Marina Cantacuzino is founder of the Forgiveness Project a charity exploring forgiveness and restorative justice through real people’s stories. Marina is also an ambassador for Make Justice Work.

“Rehabilitation in the community serves the offender – and therefore society – far more than retribution in prison.  My experience of running a victim empathy/restorative justice intervention in a number of UK prisons has shown me that those most willing to engage and take responsibility for their actions are always those serving longer prison sentences.  People serving short sentences will often not be eligible for our courses and, even when they are, do not have the motivation to sign up.  They languish in jail waiting for their release date, serving a sentence which means nothing more than ‘doing time’.

Community sentences must, however, be about more than digging, scraping and mopping up  – they should be appropriate and meaningful to the communities they serve and involve greater emphasis on changing behaviour through victim empathy programmes. I was impressed recently when a Referral Order Panel member told me how a young girl had spent her reparation writing a project based on her views of the London riots which involved producing a questionnaire which she then had to analyse. This was something she could contribute to her community as she interviewed neighbours and was of far greater benefit to her than cleaning graffiti.”

You can follow Marina on Twitter and read her blog on the Huffington Post website.