The Inmate Program Committee at William Head Institution has approved the implementation of the Intensive Journal program inside William Head Institution on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The Intensive Journal program was introduced to the inmate population through the auspices of the Restorative Justice Coalition of William Head Institution. William Head is a federal, minimum security penitentiary and is part of Correctional Services Canada (CSC).
Every Thursday evening a small group of community volunteers with the Restorative Justice Coalition of William Head, meet in an informal R J “circle” session with a group of 15-20 volunteer prison inmates. The Intensive Journal program was introduced to this group in the fall of 2015. After consultation with the prison administrative staff and the Inmate Committee, the journal program was approved for implementation inside the prison confines. The first workshop was conducted in early March, 2016.
At the initial three-hour introductory session, 6 volunteer inmates arrived to begin the first of a series of journal writing workshops. At the following workshop session 14 days later, another 5 volunteer participants arrived to be included in the journal writing program.
Each of the inmate participants has expressed appreciation for the opportunity to work privately, honestly and compassionately on their life narratives. These narratives include the trauma they have experienced as well as the trauma they have caused.
While the inmates are availed of a wide spectrum of programs while in prison, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Non-Violent Communications (among many others), they find the Intensive Journal process enables them to focus on issues of trauma from an “inward” perspective. Without analysis, diagnosis or judgement, the journal writing method provides offenders the unique opportunity to privately deal with issues of stigma, guilt, de-personalization, grief and disconnection from others.