Prison of Peace Expands to More Prisons in California

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Douglas Noll and Laurel Kaufer, professional Mediators, announce the expansion of Prison of Peace, providing communication, peacemaking and mediation skills to prison inmates.

To see how hard the graduates of Prison of Peace have worked to achieve peaceful resolutions to conflict is inspiring

Douglas E. Noll and Laurel G. Kaufer announce the expansion of Prison of Peace to more California prisons. Prison of Peace, a pro bono project begun in late 2009, by Kaufer and Noll, both professional Mediators, provides communication, peacemaking and mediation skills to prison inmates. Begun at Valley State Prison for Women, a maximum-security prison in Chowchilla, CA, Prison of Peace was created in response to a letter Kaufer received from Susan Russo, a woman serving “life without parole,” requesting mediation skills to help life and long-term inmates diminish the violence in prison.

In response to a 2011 Supreme Court Order to reduce overcrowding in California prisons, California enacted legislation to provide for ‘Prison Realignment’. As a part of ‘realignment’ efforts, as of January 2013, Valley State Prison was repurposed to a men’s institution, with all female inmates transferred to other women’s prisons in the state. Those women trained as peacemakers, mediators and facilitators through Prison of Peace will now be providing Prison of Peace to fellow inmates in the remaining women’s prisons in California.

In addition, because of the Prison of Peace’s recognized success, Kaufer and Noll have been asked to bring Prison of Peace to men’s prisons throughout the state of California. “Since the start of the Prison of Peace program, our institution appears quieter and with less violence,” reported former VSPW Warden Walter Miller.

Prison of Peace is an intense training program for inmates. Some graduates of the program become trainers and teach their own workshops under the guidance of Kaufer and Noll. Prison of Peace is the first known internally sustainable prison Peacemaking program, a model intended to be shared with prisons across the nation. In 2012 Douglas Noll and Laurel Kaufer were recipients of the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award in the Pro Bono category for Prison of Peace. Prison of Peace accepts tax-deductible donations through the Fresno Regional Foundation

About Douglas Noll
Doug is a full time peacemaker and mediator, specializing in difficult, complex, and intractable conflicts. He is an adjunct professor of law and has a Master’s Degree in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies. Mr. Noll is an AV-rated lawyer and was a business and commercial trial lawyer for 22 years before turning to peacemaking. Doug is a founding board member of Mediators Without Borders, and the 2012 President of the California Dispute Resolution Council.

He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators, a Distinguished Fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators, a Diplomat of the California and National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, a core faculty member of the American Institute of Mediation, and on the American Arbitration Association panel of mediators and arbitrators. Mr. Noll was one of the first U.S. mediators certified under the international mediator standards established by the International Mediation Institute. Doug is the author of Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts (Prometheus, 2011), the winner of the international peace and justice book award.

About Laurel Kaufer
Recognized as one of Southern California's "Best Lawyers" in the field of Alternate Dispute Resolution, in 2010 and 2011 by U.S. News & World Report, Laurel Kaufer, transitioned from litigation to neutral practice in 1995. Kaufer, a Mediator and Arbitrator with ARC in Los Angeles, CA, is the immediate past chair of the California State Bar Association Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution, a Diplomat of both the California and National Academies of Distinguished Neutrals, and teaches in the Certificate Program for Mediation and Dispute Resolution at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Kaufer served for years on the Boards of the Southern California Mediation Association and Ventura County Dispute Services.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Kaufer founded the Mississippi Mediation Project to provide Conflict Resolution resources in hard hit areas of the state, strengthening their physical, cultural and economic renewal. A long-time consumer advocate on health insurance issues, Kaufer has recently taken her advocacy to a new level, promoting the use of appropriate conflict resolution systems in diplomatic and public policy arenas, through her participation in COP 15, the U.N. Climate Change Conference 2009, working on legislation creating a pre-foreclosure Mediation process in response to the housing crisis, as well as continuing her work in health-care, both as an independent consumer advocate and as an advisor to The Margolin Group. For media inquiries contact Inspired Media Communications at info(at)inspiredmc(dot)com

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Diane Dennis

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