Participants fill out evaluations after each workshop. These evaluations provide a qualitative and subjective perspective from the participants with regard to their growth.
What has happened?
Participants in this program have experienced dramatic personal transformations. Prison of Peace has allowed them to discover or re-discover their own humanity, become aware of their own emotions, and begin to understand and reflect back the emotions of others. In learning peacemaking and mediation skills, they are taught how people evade personal accountability and how to morally re-engage those who have become morally disengaged. As a byproduct, many naturally become morally re-engaged themselves.
In addition, there has been a qualitative shift in personal interactions in the inmate population. Personal arguments have reportedly reduced in quantity and intensity. PoP Peacemakers and Mediators have been able to de-escalate and resolve conflicts among fellow inmates and between inmates and staff. Many inmates have provided written reports documenting the completion of Mediations, as well as numerous conflicts averted.
I am so proud of all of the women who have taken this courageous step. I am truly in awe and share about them at every possible moment! Thank you both for being so committed to making a difference in the lives of these women.
-Sara Malone Chief, Office of the Ombudsman, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
“Prison of Peace,” which provides women serving life sentences the skills to become Peacemakers and Mediators in the prison environment, is a truly unique and commendable effort towards the empowerment of these women in living more peaceful and fulfilling lives. “Prison of Peace,” in transforming inmates into trainers themselves, provides a low-cost sustainable rehabilitative program that is necessary in all California prisons. I look forward to seeing this program continue to grow and impact the lives of incarcerated women not only at VSPW, but throughout California.
- Senator Carol Liu, Chair, California Senate Select Committee on Women and Children in the Criminal Justice System
All of the effort put forth by you and your team has made VSPW a leader in inmate mediation and problem solving. As you are aware, prison populations are somewhat unpredictable and volatile. Since the start of the Prison of Peace program the institution appears quieter and with less violence. I have seen the inmates enrolled in the Prison of Peace program step up and offer their assistance in mediating a difficult situation. The inmates in the Prison of Peace program display leadership qualities that outweigh their past criminal behavior.
- Walter Miller, Warden, Valley State Prison for Women, Chowchilla, CA
I am so elated that there is a program like this in the prison system I have witnessed first hand, the change in my daughter who is an inmate. This type of program should be available to the outside of prison for all of us who could use this information.
This is a huge step toward one of CDCR’s main goals: rehabilitation. The dedication, hard work and transparency that these ladies have shown are a testament to their commitment to change. I am very proud of their desire to accept responsibility and place themselves in a position to give back.
-Velda Dobson-Davis, Chief Deputy Warden, Ret., Valley State Prison for Women
Laurel Kaufer and Doug Noll taught these ladies survival skills through teaching them simple communication skills – how to listen, really listen, reframe and to communicate. By learning how to listen – and I mean truly listen to what another is saying – and then acknowledging what the speaker said by repeating it back, they are showing the speaker that she is being heard. As a consequence of learning and using this simple skill, these ladies are slowly reducing the conflict and violence within the prison. Rather than using pepper spray (which costs the state $1,000 in time and paperwork) to break up a potentially violent situation, the prison guards will call in these ladies to mediate it. . . and, at times, it works. They are slowly bringing “peace” to the prison; less conflict and violence and more listening and reframing."
-Phyllis Pollack, 2010 President, Southern California Mediation Association, in a blog post, PGP Mediation Blog