This research report presents findings from a randomized controlled trial conducted in prisons in South Carolina show that Restoring Promise’s approach to culture change significantly reduces prison violence and the use of restrictive housing (commonly referred to as solitary confinement).
Restoring Promise, an initiative of the MILPA Collective and the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), works with departments of corrections to transform housing units so that they are grounded in dignity for young adults (ages 18 to 25) in prison. Launched in 2017, Restoring Promise is now operating in six prisons and one jail across five states. The housing units are led by trained corrections professionals and mentors— incarcerated people over the age of 25 who are serving long, often life, sentences who live on the unit with and guide the young adults. Participation for young adults includes living in a designated housing unit, having a structured and meaningful daily schedule, being connected to mentors, developing leadership skills, enhancing connections to family and community, and designing and participating in specialized programs and activities. The program strives to transform the prison culture into one of accountability, healing, and learning.