It operates in men’s and women’s correctional centres around Australia, and is based on a 3- to 5-day ‘Short Course’ run inside the centre by a team of highly trained volunteers.
The inmates who take part in Kairos Inside are invited by the prison chaplain with approval of the prison administration, and each inmate can chose whether they want to attend or not. The program is completely voluntary.
Through a systematic, structured program, Kairos Inside participants:
- are given the time to reflect on their lives to date;
- hear the life stories of many team members;
- learn that choice is an option for them (often the first time they have recognised this).
- learn to recognise that some team members have had lives just as hard as theirs, but made different responses to difficulties and challenges; and
- are buoyed by the hope that ‘what was' doesn’t have to be 'what will be’.
During Kairos Inside, participants are placed in small groups made up of a team leader and other participants. The groups are encouraged to take on the characteristics of a sharing family. For many residents, this is their first experience of a supportive family environment.
After a ‘Short Course’ there is an ongoing ‘Journey’ program where a rotation of team members continue to return every week or fortnight until the next Short Course is run in 6 or 12 months time.
Since actions always speak louder than words to most inmates, it is in the ongoing Journey program that the ‘proof of the words’ as team members ‘walk the talk’, which is proof of their willingness to support the participants in moving forward.
A study undertaken by Corrective Services NSW into the recidivism rate of inmates who completed the Kairos Inside program showed a favourable result compared with the general recidivism rate.