Safe Ground - Using drama to educate prisoners and young people at risk in the community


The Criminal Justice System (and Stranger Things)

I attended the premier of Injustice, a film by London South Bank University Criminology Society and Unsound Robin. I thought about how this film explains our Criminal Justice System (CJS) and how to educate the public about what prison is really like. Recently I finished watching the gripping “Stranger Things” and I’ve decided to explain the CJS through Will Byers’ perspective in the hit TV series. Stranger Things is a story about a young boy (Will Byers) who gets lost in a parallel universe with a monster called the Demogorgon. This creature is slowly shutting down Will’s body and killing him. Throughout the series Will and his friends go on an adventure to help Will release his ties to the ‘upside down’ and return to reality and continue with life.

The upside down is a place that mirrors the world, however, in the upside down Will is engulfed in dark, damp and cold. This world is daunting and unnerving and Will’s cries for help can’t be heard. He doesn’t have anyone in there with him and he can’t appear weak otherwise monsters like the Demogorgon will find him and use him as a base to harbour anger and aggression. People try to get to him to communicate but he cannot see them or hear them, this world has overwhelmed him and he sees no way out.

He comes out of the hazy wilderness; however, he’s come out changed. He’s back in the world and home again but he can’t regulate and he has panic attacks, depression and other issues that he can’t communicate. Everything looks different now, he has no relationship with places, people or things. He’s angry because the monster has left its mark on him and he fears being in the upside down again. This world is becoming just as tough as surviving in the upside down.

His friends are there to help and want to be a support, however being honest and open is not easy and being in the upside down has created a gap between him and his friends. He doesn’t have anything in common anymore, he’s quiet when in a room with them and he can’t make eye contact. Relationships are the last thing he’s thinking about as his needs are growing due to his fear of the upside down.

The Injustice film was very informative and had statistics that were shocking. It’s an eye opener for the public around prisons. For me, entering a prison is like entering the upside down; it’s intimidating and not because it’s full of men that have been sentenced; it’s the building, the visitor pat downs, the feeling of being watched by staff. If I have this feeling of dread after a short visit, how are men in prison going to feel after spending years there?

For viewings of Injustice visit


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