Beyond repair?

Earlier today, I was reminded by the fact it wasn’t just the major things like studying for a degree in prison that had an impact on me. There were also a number of little things that created the same sort of impact. And, just as important. One of these was a television programme which began life on BBC2. However, ‘The Repair Shop’ would be transferred to BBC1 after 3 series.

‘The Repair Shop’ unwittingly become a constant reminder, motivator and inspiration in my own journey of repair and reformation.

The tears of joy and cries of happiness along with the looks on peoples face as they uncovered their once broken priceless treasure which can be proudly displayed again meant I couldn’t wait to hug my loved ones as a reformed man or at least reformed to the point of prison no longer serving a personal purpose. Another purpose took hold.

The whole essence of the programme can be summed up by the image below*:

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A little adaptation to the wording will, hopefully, allow you to see those words from my perspective.

“Placed in full sight, or nestled deep in the countryside of England and Wales are repair shops, where a team of professional individuals support, encourage and influence the children of others, who most consider beyond saving. Together they transform these priceless children and send loved, once broken treasures, with the memories that once were, back home”

The punishment side of a custodial sentence should end the moment you hear “take her/him down”.

We do not get to hear each individual story and yet society, in the main, are quick to also pass judgement. Unfortunately, there is no appealing to society and the judgement sticks. I would think most people make mistakes, but what if we all held mistakes against each other, forever?

I wonder how many can honestly hold up their hands and say they have viewed our prison system subjectively? It is so easy in this fast-paced world of technology, where information is freely available to use stereotyping as our default through life (or I dare say for some, “Well, if it’s in the papers it must be true”) without taking a moment to be subjective.

It is bad enough that we are providing prisoners upon release with; accommodation (however minimal) without the experience of independent living, or providing employability skills but not the skills of keeping a job, or releasing a man to be free with his kids yet unclear how to be a father to his children. Self-service checkouts and petrol-pumps could also be a new experience, panicking someone into a theft. What chance then while viewing everyone from the back as a society turn away? Isn’t the completion of a sentence also known as paying your debt back to society? if so, then why not a level playing field of opportunity?

The majority of those who dwell behind the grey walls and within the wire fences will one day be released. I can also say with confidence that most do not want to be in prison in the first place. However, unless society does take a step back prison will be the growth industry it has been, virtually, year on year since it’s inception as a place to hold those punished. At what point do we say “Hold on a minute”?

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It is time to ensure that our prisons are provided with the right resources to influence and enable repair, reformation and reintegration. If not, who are we to judge if things turn sour.

 

Featured image credit: thephotorestorationcenter.com

* https://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/take-part/the-repair-shop. Accessed 02/01/20.

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