Convicting The Convicted…

I love Sunday mornings. One of my favourite times of the week and as we enter month three of live delivery of our projects, Sunday mornings is my catch up time on news.

This week is Restorative Justice week as per the previous blog from the effervescent Natasha Phillips and the great team over at Researching Reform have highlighted. I am passionate over Restorative Justice and Restorative Solutions. I am of the mind there is room for both not only in the Criminal Justice System, but society as a whole. I know excellent practitioners in RJ and follow their work, avidly.

Spoiling what is a positive and workable approach within the CJS, a benefit to society, those who have been harmed, those who have harmed, I began to feel soothed, we as a society, was turning a corner.  From our little office in Burnley, our team work tirelessly to help & support those coming from prison.  We receive no financial benefit, we barely can find the funds for our office space, yet we crash through each month and breathe a sigh of relief. This morning’s news from the department that has more front than Blackpool Pier, the MoJ, has angered me.

The latest plan of attack to *work together to secure convictions* of those already convicted is alarming and worrying. I support the tireless work of The Prison Service, sure I do. I converse regularly with hard working prison officers who are under immense pressure in their jobs to tackle over crowded prisons. Like most sectors, Prison Officers have mortgages, children and homes to run. They are often forgotten about in their work and the challenges they face daily. They do not deserve to be attacked in any manner, least of all a violent one.

But what of those who are convicted? Locked up in cells because there are less & less prison staff to handle frustrated and damaged people?  Is another way of dangerous resolutions a way to address a growing crisis the answer?  Convicting the already convicted is only going to increase violence and likely lead to more deaths. I have no idea what goes on in the minds of the MoJ, but Andrew SelousMP statements (as though he has conquered world peace) are pitiful. The mainstream news reports are shameful on this dreadful attempt at addressing the prison crisis. I see former prisoners regularly at my office.  The outpouring of fear when they trust our team to open up of bullying, violence and being attacked is eye-watering to say the least. Men & women, are terrified when they are released and what they have to face on the outside. On the inside, many prisoners are serving longer sentences for behaviours inside than the original crime/crimes which put them there in the first place.

Is the only answer to convict the convicted? That is crisis point. Why are we, in Britain, continually making decisions that cost lives? Why are we allowing this? Violence is unacceptable in any form or situation, we already have laws in place to address violence. It is not as though prisons have suddenly become violent institutions, they have been since the year dot.

The latest from the MoJ is wrong on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin. When we introduce plans to convict the convicted, our society has plunged to depths of darkness and regression.

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