Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice

REVEREND SHAWN VERHEY (HMYOI Thorn Cross)

REVEREND SHAWN VERHEY (HMYOI Thorn Cross)

COMMENDEE 2012-13: Co-ordinating Chaplain: for dedication and skill in support of prisoners, their families and the victims of crime.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

[Shawn Verhey gives his account of the work for which he won his Commendation]

I have been involved in promoting, funding and delivering the Sycamore Tree restorative justice course, Victim Impact events and victim/offender mediations since I arrived at Thorn Cross. This includes sourcing and training volunteers, church and Chester University placements. It also has involved my attempt to change the public perception of Sycamore Tree and restorative justice through engaging the public via television, radio and a wide range of speaking engagements in both the United Kingdom and North America.

Sycamore Tree and restorative justice gives victims a voice and reduces reoffending. The Sycamore Tree course involves engaging 20 of our most serious offenders with 6 three hour sessions which run over a 6 week period. This includes the week three Victim Impact event featuring the testimony of high impact surrogate victims. This process enables the learners to complete the cognitive skills exercises in their two NOCN Workbooks. The six sessions include the following areas;

Session 1. Restorative Justice, What’s that?

Learning outcome: Understanding the restoration process (L1 & L2). Level One; Outline the main features of the restoration process. Level Two; Explain how the main features of the restoration process are applied in relation to a particular incident.

Session 2.Restorative Justice Taking Responsibility.

Learning outcome: Know the effects of crime on victims (L1) Understand the effects of crime on victims (L2). Understand the wider impact of crime (L1 & L2).

Assessment criteria. Level One: Identify the main short and long term effects of crime on victims. State who else other than victims might be affected by a crime. Give examples of how people other than the direct victim might be affected by a crime.

Level Two; Explain the most significant short term effects of crime on victims. Explain the most commonly occurring long term effects of crime on victims  and how people, other than the direct victims, can be affected by a crime.

Session 3. Saying Sorry, Showing Remorse.

Learning Outcome: Know the benefits of forgiveness in the restorative justice process (L1).

Understand how forgiveness in the restorative justice process can help victims and offenders.

Assessment Criteria: Level One. Identify the benefits to victims of crimes when they can forgive the offender. Identify the benefits to the offender of being forgiven by victims of crime.

Level Two. Describe how forgiving the offender can help victims of crime. Describe how forgiveness by victims of their crime can help an offender.

Session 4. Reconciliation.

Learning outcome: Understand the importance of an offender taking responsibility for their actions. (L1 & L2).

Assessment Criteria: Level One. Give examples of the ways an offender can take responsibility for their actions. Identify how taking responsibility for actions may help offenders in the long term.

Level Two. Explain how offenders might take responsibility for heir actions.  Describe the benefits for both the offenders and the victims, of the offender taking responsibility for their actions. Describe how taking responsibility for their actions may help offenders in the longer term.

Session 5. Taking the Next Step.

Learning outcome: Know the parts played by the offender, the victim and the wider community in the restorative justice process and the benefits to each from the restorative justice process. (L1). Understand the parts played by the offender, the victim and the wider community in the restorative justice process, and the benefits to each from the restorative justice process (L2).

Assessment Criteria: Level One. State what offenders, victims and the wider community each do in a restorative justice encounter, and the benefits of the process to each.

Level Two. Explain the contribution of offenders, victims and the wider community in a restorative justice encounter, and the benefits to each. Describe how the process can support the offender to plan short and long term goals.

Session 6. Symbolic Act of Restitution.

An opportunity :

  • To make a symbolic act of restitution for your offending behaviour.
  • To demonstrate the positive changes in your life.
  • Complete “My restoration plan”.

Each Sycamore Tree course costs £3650.00 and I have been responsible for raising most of this funding for the seventeen courses that we have been able to deliver to date.

INSPIRE ARTICLE

[The following article appeared in issue 5 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]

The Reverend Shawn Verhey, Coordinating Chaplain at HMP and YOI Thorn Cross has been commended for ‘dedication and skill in support of prisoners, their families and the victims of crime,’ while Chaplaincy Team Member at HMP The Verne.

‘Once you have met Shawn you will never forget him,’ said one colleague, who went on to describe him as ‘very much part of the fabric of Thorn Cross.’ Shawn has worked as a Chaplain in the prison service for 14 years, the last six of them at Thorn Cross. In that time he has been instrumental in the delivery of the Sycamore Tree restorative justice course, for which he personally raised funds of more than £30,000 in four years, and regularly gives up his own time to talk to community groups about the potentials of restorative justice.

As well as coordinating a range of activities including study groups, drama groups and family visits, Shawn trains volunteers on working in the prison, including an ongoing placement programme for students at Chester University. He has also established a strong family support programme and developed close links with the worldrenowned Hallé orchestra to help boost offenders’ personal development through music, and his work has been featured on radio and TV. He is described by colleagues as an ‘inspirational spiritual leader’ whose ‘energy and vibrancy are contagious for staff, prisoners and visitors.’

For more information: contact HMYOI Thorn Cross

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