The INTENSIVE JOURNAL Method at William Head Institution

     by William Israel

As a member of the Restorative Justice Coalition at William Head federal penitentiary on Vancouver Island, Bill Israel spends one evening a week with fellow Coalition members and 15 – 20 inmates in a “Restorative Justice Circle”.

Trauma related episodes are often difficult to speak about in conversational terms, through talk therapy for example.  The Journal process enables one to privately explore their individual experience and the meaning of that experience.

When the inmates learned about the Intensive Journal method they asked for, and received, Administrative approval for the program inside the prison. To date, 15 inmates have undertaken their own Journal Workbooks, writing privately in search of restoration, reconciliation and forgiveness, preparing for their eventual release on parole and return to the community.

The coarse (sic) opened a lot of past memories and things I tried to bury. Re-opening these life experiences helped to refresh some of the reasons I ended up here (in prison). Negative choices, a negative life style, all to cover my pain. This coarse (sic)….really helped me understand why I made such poor decisions. It is an “amazing” tool in my tool box to cope with trauma. My journal will help me improve my future.

Participant - a LIFER of 10 years

The program was wonderful and helpful. I have rediscovered my love of art.  Looking at past decisions (I made) helped be seem them in a different light – from a different perspective. The Spiritual Steppingstones section and the Re-Openings of Road Taken and Not Taken were VERY helpful.

Participant - a LIFER, in for 20 + years

The most helpful part was the continued informal writing expressing oneself on paper – good or bad. Gave me meaningful thought that in my past I was lazy in my thinking and always felt negative. Being true to myself opens the door to spiritual steppingstones that I had lost when I was young. Re-opening this part of my life greatly improves my communication with others.

Participant - a LIFER in for 20 + years

This course has helped me to re-cap everything (programs) I participated in throughout my sentence. The difference, from another perspective, is the non-judgmental, positive energy of the good bunch of guys in our group. I am free from my negative intensity.

Participant - a “signed” LIFER in for 20 + years

It streamlined ways of looking at past events. Even “talking to” those events – opens them up in new and innovative ways. Great (tool) for unpacking my past and see events in a new light or from a different perspective. It will be an invaluable tool (my journal) to expand on.

Participant - a LIFER of 10 years

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