Now there’s a question to start a debate, no doubt heated in some arena’s. However, it all depends on your perspective. Therefore, the only right answer is, for some it does work and for some it does not. If that is the case, who am I, or who are we, to say which side is right?
If you are in the prison works camp, then I suggest there is a reason personal to you why you think that. The same for the other side. I have read countless stories from former prisoners about how prison saved their lives. How prison gave them the opportunity to change their lives around. On the other side of the coin, I have sadly witnessed prisoners who have taken their own lives and those whose life has been totally ruined by prison.
I have read numerous stories about how someone being sent to prison has given a victim closure, and of course, we have the successful Restorative Justice project. I have also read many stories from victims of crime about how even prison hasn’t or will never give them closure, and could never imagine sitting opposite the guilty party in whatever crime.
Are any of those wrong?
This is where your answer will be based on your perspective, and therefore, whatever you answered, you will believe you are right.
Can we all be right though?
We may be right through our own lens, but our own lens blinkers us to the bigger picture.
If prison can become platforms of change for some, why not for others?
If some victims feel they receive justice and hopefully closure, why shouldn’t all victims feel that?
Therefore, the involvement of lived experience covering all perspectives, not the tick-box tokenistic involvement, at the stage policies are being designed and developed is so important.
We are all both students and teacher. Reforming our criminal justice system, or any system, should not be about who is right and more about finding out what is the right thing to do. If both sides of the fence think they are right, then I suggest there is a middle ground to be found.