“Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal.”
When Elizabeth Fry, famed English prison reformer, wrote those words, she was trying to help people understand that the success of the prison system is in everyone’s best interest. The purpose of the justice system is to keep society as safe as possible. To lessen crime. To reach that end, punishment alone is not enough. If an inmate is released from prison, only to reoffend, then the system failed.
The best and only way to achieve a society without crime (or at least move towards one), is to give those who have committed crimes the tools to change their lives.
Psychotherapy is one of the best ways to help convicts better understand themselves, and break the cycles that led them to prison. Most roads to crime begin with issues such as anger, abandonment, abuse, torture, breakdowns and even mental illness. Psychoanalysis can help inmates deal with some of these issues, better equipping them for success after prison.
Friends for the Support of International Prisoners began when a group of psychotherapists recognised the need for counselling and other levels of support in institutions to help prisoners make changes in their lives. The Ireland-based organization recruits volunteer psychotherapists to do short-term placements in Africa for La Prison Civile de Lome in Togo, however they are also looking for volunteers who might be interested in placements in Irish prisons.
To create a safer world, we must recognise that people turn to crime for a reason, and unless they receive help to deal with those reasons, then crime in our communities will continue.
It’s everybody’s issue.
by Jessica Schwitek