There Is

A Better


Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime. When victimes, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational.

It emphasizes accountability, making amends, and — if they are interested — facilitated meetings between victims, offnders, and other persons.

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The Centre for Justice & Reconciliation is internationally recognized as experts on the use of restorative justice.

Our mission is to develop and promote restorative justice in criminal justice systems around the world. We are convinced that restorative justice is an important contemporary expression of biblical standards of justice. While operating within the Christian tradition, we find common ground and collaborate with people from all backgrounds and


Justice for

20 years

We are

Working in

Over 40



Sycamore Tree Project*

This program is based on the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus, the corrupt tax collector who promised to repay the people he had extorted. STP brings groups of victims into prisons to meet wit hgroups of "unrelated" offenders. They discuss issues related to crime and its consequences over a period of eight weeks.

The program is now used regularly in 34 countries. Research shows it changes offender attitudes away from viewing crime as acceptable. Research is underway to document the impact on the victims of crime who participate.

Communities of Restoration

Communities of Restoration are 24-hour, 7-day-a-week intensive prison regimes operated by national Prison Fellowship organizations. They are designed to reduce offending behavior through character-focused, faith-based programming. They are based on a revolutionary methodology (called APAC) that was developed 40 years ago by Prison Fellowship Brazil. Prisoners volunteers to participate in a graduated program designed to help them experience and participate in responsible and loving relationships.

National Reform

How can justice systems themselves be made more restorative? The National Reform program is how the Centre is exploring this answer. It applies a consistent research and design methodology to diverse contexts in search of innovation. Examples of projects the Centre has been engaged in over the past two decades include:

  • UN Project: The UN endorses use of restorative justice but also protects due process rights of offenders and victime. The Centre played a lead role in developing basic principles that the UN adopted to help countries embrace restorative justice and safeguard human rights.
  • Rwanda Project: The Centre prepared prisoners accused of genocide to meet their victims, survivors and community members during that country's Gacaca hearings. Nine months after Prison Fellowship Rwanda began offering this course in the prisons, the number of prisoners willing to confess their involvement in the genocide had increased from 5,000 to 40,000. Today, Prison Fellowship Rwanda manages four "reconciliation villages" in which perpetrators, survivors and returned exiles live together in peace.
  • Colombia Project: After conducting the first national symposium on restorative justice in 2003, the Centre testified before Congressional committees, addressed the Colombian Senate, and provided training to prosecutors and judges on UN guidelines for using restorative justice. Prison Fellowship Colombia has pioneered use of the Sycamore Tree Project in cases of homicide and adapted it futher to facilitate implementation of peace agreements with paramilitary and guerrilla groups.
  • Nigeria Project: Can restorative justice reduce prison overcrowding? That's what we are testing in a pilot project in Lagos, Nigeria that seeks to lower the number of people held in remand prisons while they wait for trial.

Led by Daniel W. Van Ness

Executive Director

Dan Van Ness has been involved with Prison Fellowship for over 30 years. In that time he has directed efforts to reform overworked, underfunded and ineffective criminal justice systems.

He led the design team that created the Sycamore Tree Project® and led a coalition of NGOs that drafted and successfully lobbied for adoption by the United Nations of Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programs in Criminal Matters.

Dan is the co-author of Restoring Justice: An Introduction to Restorative Justice and holds degrees from Wheaton College, DePaul University College of Law and Georgetown University Law Center. In 2013 he received the John W. Byrd Pioneer Award for Community and Restorative Justice from the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice.

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