Australia: Welcoming youths out of jail

Australian prison population continues to grow with a large proportion of inmates being young offenders. Many of these young prisoners often find it difficult to re-enter into mainstream society after time in jail. Founded in 1977, the Brosnan Centre in Brunswick (State of Victoria) has recently celebrated 25 years of work. Named after John Brosnan SJ, who served over three decades as prison chaplain, the Centre helps young people, aged between 17 and 25, find a place in society after their release from prison or juvenile justice centres. This first period can be difficult for young people who may not have family support, stable accommodation or good prospects for employment. The criminal sub-culture has in many ways provided the only ?family? they know, albeit a dysfunctional one, and they carry the stigma of criminal record. They have to work hard to learn about friendship-centred relationships and trust, but the volunteers staff provide a model. The Centre is run by Jesuit Social Services (JSS), which is working to prevent crime and to make the Australian society more cohesive. With years of grass roots experience, JSS is involved in criminal justice reform and works in partnership with the State authorities. With the recently launched position paper, ?Crime and Punishment? (see www.jss.org.au), JSS challenges the community to move from a purely retributive view of crime and punishment to a restorative justice approach, meeting the needs of all parties involved. [HL30104]