University of Oregon

Prisons and Peace

A three-year initiative by the Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Prison reform and restorative justice issues are important and relevant to all of us, as academics and citizens; addressing these issues is a key factor in achieving peace, both nationally and internationally.

According to the 2009 Global Peace Index, the United States ranks 83 out of 144 countries in the world, due most significantly to our incarceration rate, which is the highest in the world. The U.S., with less than five percent of the world’s population, holds almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners, causing significant economic, societal and cultural strains. The Institute for Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict-Sensitive Reporting’s three-year initiative aimed to take account of the multiple factors that contribute to this low ranking, consider the implications of our laws and social practices, and to recognize the actions, accomplishments, and struggles of those working in fields such as restorative justice and prison reform.

The Prisons and Peace initiative included public programming, lectures, and events; promoted seminars, course development and research; and facilitated collaboration and interdisciplinary work. Prison reform, political prisoners, spirituality in prisons, education in prisons, the death penalty, and re-entry (or homecoming) for ex-prisoners are just some of the important topics we addressed as part of this initiative.

The Institute organized a conference May 20 – 22, 2011 at the Cascadia Center in Mount Vernon, Washington entitled “Prisons, Peace, and Compassion.”


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