The South Burlington Community Justice Center (SB CJC) announced that writing inside VT, a well-established, successful restorative writing program for women incarcerated at South Burlington’s Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF), is now one of South Burlington CJC’s programs.
writing inside VT (wiVT) was established in January 2010 to provide year-round weekly writing circles that foster self-expression and discovery to support growth and change. Experienced facilitator/writers model behaviors that help offenders succeed on the outside. By involving participants in the establishment of shared agreements, the circles also create a sense of community and a safe space.
According to Lisa Bedinger, the SB CJC Coordinator, this writing program enables more successful transitions from incarceration back into the community by developing relationships with women at CRCF prior to their release. The practices of writing inside VT and those of restorative justice spring from common roots, supporting transformation in thinking and life choices to help participants become the people they want to be. wiVT Participants say:
“Tonight’s group brought me a sense of change; beauty in the breaking.”
“Tonight I returned to my identity and left behind others’ opinions.”
“I got in touch with myself honestly and felt my past was released.”
For those inside long-term, writing inside VT is a lifeline for respectful listening, connection and sometimes, sanity. For those on the outside, continuing support from program facilitators encourages the ongoing use of writing for empowerment and change.
wiVT provides public readings from their 2013 publication HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write (Orbis Books) and semi-annual readings inside CRCF for current group participants and invited guests.