Verna McFelin has dedicated her life to part of the criminal justice system most of us forget to remember - the families, especially the children, of offenders. The work Verna has done with Pillars, an organisation she founded in 1988, has been praised around the world. In 2011 she was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community. She has spoken at many international and national conferences and edited an international journal on families and corrections from the New Zealand perspective. In 2014, Pillars was the winner of the Champion Canterbury Charity Award.
Recently Pillars has been involved in researching the effects of imprisonment on families and children. The aim is to understand and interrupt intergenerational cycles of offending. Verna is an extraordinary individual determined to ensure that children are not paying for crimes they did not commit.