The further I pull away from the criminal justice system and live each day trying to be a better person than I was the day before, the more I can look back and see things from a unique perspective. Unique in that the knowledge I have now, along with the new experiences I am living, provide me with a better understanding not just of the why of who I used to be but also what I felt was missing or what intervention(s) may have worked and why interventions didn’t work.
However, I don’t look back and think about what could have been, I look back with new knowledge to learn the lessons of the decisions I’d taken and the mistakes I made. My journey through the school to prison pipeline lasted almost four decades and, in that time, I made plenty of questionable decisions along with many mistakes, but my journey also provided me with many a lesson and continues to do so. Every day provides a lesson and an opportunity to be a better person than the day before. That’s one of the many benefits of learning it can be lifelong if you allow it.
The lessons we learn are pointless unless we do learn from them. And then once we have taken what we need from the lesson why keep it to yourself?
One of my highlights from what has been an amazing year for me was attending and speaking at an event at the University of Gloucester by Dr Adeela ahmed-Shafi with Tristan Middleton about a project called RENYO:
With the knowledge I have now I strongly believe RENYO would’ve seen me escape the school to prison pipeline a far lot sooner than I did.
Still, this isn’t about what could have been for me, this is about #WhatCanBe for others.
If it can work with young adults in custody, I have no reason to doubt that it can also work in the adult prison estate, and in the waiting room of the school to prison pipeline, Pupil Referral Units.