Churches and Christian groups across Britain are being encouraged to hold special services and events to mark Prisons Week from 15-21 November 2009. The theme for the Week this year is 'Hold Fast to Hope'.
Prisons Week is encouraging people of faith to focus on real stories of change and redemption from around the world. Some will also be looking at how to move from punitive to restorative justice - looking at how the basis of the criminal justice system can be refocused on mending relationships and people, rather than on incarceration.
Prisons Week takes place in a context in which more than 80,000 people are being imprisoned in Britain every year and critics say that with high rates of re-offending it is palpably failing.
The Rev David Gamble, President of the Methodist Conference, said; “Prisons week reminds us of the harsh realities of crime and imprisonment, but it also speaks of hope in dark places. This is a time to pray for those in prison and those affected by crime as we seek a better future for all."
He added: "It's also a time to give thanks for, and remember the contribution made by, chaplains to the lives of those living and working in prisons.”
The Prisons Week website (www.prisonsweek.org ) offers a range of free resources, including prayers, sketches and stories from the UK and further afield.
The Rev Alan Ogier, Superintendent Methodist and Free Church Chaplain to the Prison Service, said: “The Christian message is one of real hope for all – not just shallow optimism. This is a solid belief that no one is beyond redemption, that change can and does happen.”
An interview with Ogier about the reality of prison life has been put online here: http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.webradio