Volkert Ruhe

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2013
Gefangene helfen Jugendlichen e.V.


This profile was prepared when Volkert Ruhe was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Volkert’s organization, Gefangene helfen Jugendlichen (GHJ—Prisoners Help Youth), enables personal, peer dialogue between prisoners and at-risk youth as a basis for both crime prevention and empowering prisoners’ reintegration into society.

Volkert uses building and exercising empathy skills to combat the issues behind offending and reoffending. He opens channels of communication so that prisoners and ex-prisoners may share their stories with at-risk teenagers and young adults on the verge of a criminal career. Youth are encouraged to reflect on their actions and the potential consequences, which leads to fewer crimes overall. Prisoners not only reflect more deeply about their personal experience, they also act as valuable resources for teenagers and young adults. The exchange enables both groups to realize they have something to give back to society. Prisoners’ play a leading role in supporting, organizing, and even replicating Gefangene helfen Jugendlichen; turning their engagement into a stepping stone for a successful return to society.

Integrated into a broad network of youth crime prevention work, Volkert and his team provide a missing piece in the field with authentic, dialogue-based confrontation of the consequences of criminal action. However, Volkert also believes in shifting the way prisoners and ex-prisoners are perceived, and he works to reintegrate and reposition them as engaged, productive, and valuable citizens.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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