In February 2014 representatives of TPRF’s Peace Education Program (PEP) were invited to participate in the annual conference of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Association (NCCJA) in Raleigh. This was a small conference attended by North Carolina criminal justice professors and students. But the interest in PEP that developed there is still reverberating across the state and beyond.
The invitation to introduce PEP at the conference came from Dr. James Mayes, interim chair of the Criminal Justice Department at North Carolina A&T State University and board member of the NCCJA. A group of PEP volunteers with experience in presenting the program in Eastern US formed a panel to talk about PEP’s success in prison and parolee settings.
The audience responded with visible emotion when the Peace on the Inside DVD was shown about the affect of PEP on inmates at Dominguez State Jail in San Antonio. The first suggestion from the audience was to have tissue boxes at the next conference. Lisa Briggs, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University, said that she would like to offer the PEP program in her department as well as in others. She expressed that she thought PEP should be widely available in schools to help bring down the rates of crime.
Chasidy Boyd-Crews, a student at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, said that she wanted to work with ex-prisoners in the social work field after graduation. She thought PEP would be very helpful. Within days after the conference, as a result of Chasidy’s enthusiasm for the program, PEP volunteers were invited to give a presentation of the program to 50 students and two professors from St. Augustine’s.
John Roberts, now a PEP volunteer, had not been involved with PEP before the North Carolina conference. “But that has all changed,” he says. “What I gained from the conference presentation is the understanding that the materials and videos speak for themselves. Since the event, I have shown Peace on the Inside to several faculty members at Gaston College, where I am a student. My supervisor teaches Criminal Justice and has expressed an interest in presenting an introductory PEP evening to his fall classes. I could tell he was quite moved when we watched the video together in his office.”
Stay tuned for the stories that evolve from this ripple of interest in PEP as it extends its outreach into the university world in North Carolina.