Benefits for Corrections:
Research shows that AVP reduces violent attitudes in prison inmates to the same level as a comparison community group. In Delaware, AVP has been shown to reduce inmates' tendency to get angry and cut down on both "bad behavior" write-ups and recidivism. In a study conducted by a Johns Hopkins researcher, prisoners who participated in AVP had significantly lower levels of expressed anger and lower rates of confrontations at 6 months after the workshop than non-participating inmates.
As a result, the AVP program is well-respected within the corrections profession. The improvements in inmate behavior associated with AVP lead to dramatic reductions in the number of assaults between inmates and improved facility climate. Corrections administrators have praised the program:
Philip Coombe, Jr., former Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections, said of AVP: "Time and time again, we have witnessed the effectiveness of the Alternatives to Violence Project through changed behavior of inmates, who might otherwise have committed violent acts which would have lengthened their period of incarceration."
Former Delaware Commissioner of Corrections Stan Taylor, wrote, "Over the 12 years AVP has been active in Delaware prisons, almost 4,000 inmate participants have been involved. When I was warden of one of our prisons, I saw AVP facilitate a dramatic reduction in the number of assaults between inmates in what had been a difficult maximum-security unit. As the program continued to run and graduate more and more inmates, the overall climate improved to a point where inmates were actually seeking out ways to positively affect their living environment. As Commissioner of Corrections for Delaware, I have seen similar results in each of the prisons that have implemented AVP."
Benefits for Inmates:
In a number of prison studies, AVP was equally effective with all ethnic groups at developing respect for self and others. AVP helps participants develop alternative approaches to conflict resolution by providing examples, practice and positive reinforcement. Participants desire a better "community" within the institution – a safer, more social environment with more meaningful interaction with fellow inmates and a desire to participate in socially oriented activities. AVP reduces conflict and inmate violence, behavioral write-ups, and recidivism.
A participant at Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in New Jersey described his AVP experience this way: "What I like about AVP is that I look at others differently and I look at myself differently. I look in the mirror and I actually like what I see. I like what I've become and what I've become inside. I never before thought of how I related to other people, the defensiveness and intimidation. It just never occurred to me to think about it, that there was another alternative, not until AVP."
Inmates who are extremely motivated by the program may become trainers, and that adds to the program's credibility. Seeing their peers working as trainers lets other inmates buy into the values of cooperation and connecting. This means fewer arguments with officers and staff.
Benefits for Communities:
Conflict is a normal part of life. When people learn to how to respond to it in a healthy way, it can be a tool for positive change and growth. AVP offers a new approach for community groups, social service agencies, youth organizations, and anyone else who would like to participate. Though founded by Quakers and based upon their belief in an inborn power for peace in everyone, this secular workshop draws its participants and trainers from all religions, races, and walks of life.
People who have taken the training report they have connected deeply with others, laughed, shared, listened. Through the shared life experiences of participants, interactive exercises, games and role-plays, they have learned to see beyond differences, explore common ground, and discover their power to transform occasions of conflict into opportunities for new growth - whether in the classroom, family, work or community. Some have also committed to joining the teams of volunteers who facilitate workshops for others.