For the past fifteen years Phoenix Zululand has offered programme work to serving offenders in 10 correctional centres in KwaZulu-Natal. The work of the organisation is overseen by an active Board of Management, including on this board three Quakers and one attender.
With the help of donor funding, Phoenix has been able to offer a range of programmes to help inmates reflect on their life experiences, and to promote the rehabilitation process.
The core programmes in use at the moment are: 1) the 16-session ‘Phoenix Rising’ programme that deals with a range of topics using a narrative approach, and 2) the 5-session ‘Conversations in Families’ pre-release programme aiming to strengthen the inmates’ family ties. This latter programme is followed by a family conference, bringing inmates together with their families to address mutual concerns and promote family healing.
It is our firm belief that, given the paucity of social supports for individuals once they have left prison, family restoration is key to providing the support and framework needed for the re-integration process.
Our particular concern is for inmates in medium to maximum correctional facility at Ncome, near Vryheid. Many are serving life sentences for serious offences. Tensions in the prisoner population frequently spill into conflict and even violence. More often than not, Ncome inmates are alienated from their families and communities.
Our priority for 2017 will be to help promote family healing for inmates at the Ncome correctional facility. We will focus on delivering the core programmes, as well as family conferences to achieve this aim.
We enjoy a particularly good relationship with the spiritual services directorate of the Department of Correctional Services at the Ncome Centre. With their cooperation, we have every belief that these programmes will be possible and successful.