Blog posts like this one give us a simple way to share our thoughts, ideas, and feelings about Magnolia. They are not carefully worded or tightly argued but simply reflections on how our project is developing over time. Blog posts invite feedback and new ideas and suggestions.
Kate’s blog post abut Flikshop does just this. Why can’t we try to do something similar in Australian prisons? After all the Magnolia Project is all about how it is so much easier to provide people with opportunities to develop compassion than to simply punish them or somehow try to ‘treat’ the callousness that is associated with some offences. And people can only develop compassion if they are encouraged to reflect on those things that are important to us all – our values and our connections with others.
There are so many simple things that we can do. For example, this week we have been talking to Robyn – a prison officer in NSW who has single-handedly set up a program for people in prison to make Mother’s Day cards that are then sent out. For us, Robyn’s work is an inspiration. The feedback from some of the men who take part in her programs includes the following:
“It’s hard being away from family so being able to send out cards etc means a lot”
“this allows me to show my mother and my partner how I feel about them and that I’m thinking of them. It also makes me feel good for doing it”.
Another simple project, but one that makes a difference to families and encourages hope and optimism for the future.
There are many other examples of everyday correctional practice like this (we heard about quite a few during our time at Port Augusta Prison). We should do more to recognise and support them – not as nice ‘add-ons’ to the regime – but as core correctional practice.