I have been so busy these last few days that Blogging has sort of taken a back seat this week. However, I’m going to back date this one [actually written September 24, 2004] just to get the important events in their proper time-slots.
Today was Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Furndale minimum prison in Mission BC, held by the Corrections Services Canada, or CSC as everyone here calls it. Part of being enrolled in Criminology, and Law programs is the study of our various systems and social institutions. Naturally, when one studies criminal law, and the criminalogical social aspects of law and order, the corrections system (or prisons as the general public may refer them as) is the first place you start. I have done several prisons trips in the past, however, they were usually class trips with 30 to 40 students, all under strict and controlled environments. So to sit within a small circle of volunteers and inmates was quite the experience for me. To have this close contact with prisoners and to actually see some of the “Alternative to Violence Program” (AVP) in action was breath taking.
Although I myself am fairly new to the AVP methods and teachings, some of what I saw in that room was very interesting yet very familiar. Most of my training has being in a textbook and classroom orientation. So, the big jump to actually meeting people in this setting as appose to reading about them was worth the time off from work and the rive out there.
Stereotypes are a huge factor in this sort of volunteer work. The work that has been done in these facilities has undergone varying levels of criticisms. One form of criticisms that exists among the common public is “why someone would actually care to take the time to help these people?” This question covers so many avenues that I could quote several sources in a 20 page paper and still not even have touched the surface of possible answers. And I will not do here. But the arguments are there and understanding is the key to getting at least getting reintegration of those who have served their time, back into the public is the goal.