Projects for a Civil Society is currently in the process of taking on the AVP prison work of the nonprofit, Peace Between People (“PBP”).
Peace Between People has been running AVP workshops in Monroe prisons in Washington since 1987. Prior to 2011 AVP was serving two prisons in Monroe, the Washington State Reformatory and the Twin Rivers Unit. PBP was delivering 20 to 24 workshops a year, 10 to 12 in each in prison, serving about 350 inmates a year. Each prison had from 15 to 20 trained inmate facilitators working on teams with 12 to 20 outside facilitators. In its 28 years PBP has reached 1000s of inmates.
Peace Between People is currently winding down its affairs and closing. Projects for a Civil Society has agreed to take over their prison work and is endeavoring to revitalize and grow the program. The transition should be complete by January of 2016.
In January of 2011, an inmate in the Reformatory murdered correctional officer Jayme Biendl. The Department of Corrections responding with an intensive investigation and security review, halted all programs for nearly a year. For 2011 there were no AVP workshops at Monroe. During that year the prison was reclassified from maximum security to medium. This resulted in many of the AVP inmate facilitators being transferred to other prisons. During this year PBP also lost a number of outside facilitators. Most importantly PBP lost 20+ workshops a year for training new facilitators. The result was that when AVP was readmitted into Monroe in 2012, there were only enough PBP program sponsors to serve only one prison, the State Reformatory, and then only for about 5 workshops a year.
PCS is committed to revitalizing the program, getting back into the Twin Rivers Unit, and getting back to doing 20 to 24 workshops per year. As an important first step, PCS has arranged the first training-for-trainers workshop for November 2015, and hopes to train 9 new inside facilitators and 3 outside facilitators as a first step to growing our base. We are looking towards doing an additional training-for-trainers workshop outside the prison to get 12 more outside facilitators by February.
PCS is encouraged by the recent public focus on mass incarceration and criminal justice reform. This new awareness is leading to many more inquiries from people looking for ways to volunteer in prison and do criminal justice related work. We are confident this energy will help us grow back to previous levels and beyond.
PCS has also been fielding inquiries from other Washington prisons that want AVP in their facilities. We will need to focus first on rebuilding our Monroe program. As we get that program well-grounded we will begin talks with these other prisons on how to meet their needs.