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‘Good Things Come to Those Who Hustle’ CJA Members Meeting – 6th November 2018

The CJA Members meeting, hosted in Church House, Westminster was divided into two halves. The first was an energetic speech by Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland. The second was an informative talk from two Unlocked Graduates currently working in London prisons.

Karyn McCluskey, the first speaker, leads the Community Justice Scotland team and has overall responsibility for raising awareness of the value that community justice brings to individuals and communities. Karyn spent 21 years working with the police and helped establish the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit in 2005. She is a member of the WHO Violence Prevention Alliance and helped set up the Medics Against Violence charity in Scotland, which speak to school children about violence reduction, injury and keeping safe.

Karyn began with a presentation – ‘Good Things Come to Those Who Hustle’. The presentation covered areas including; what does justice and the prison population look like in 10-15 years? Karyn spoke passionately about our biggest problem being public health, and that we have so many great reports but so little change. She spoke about having a care package for those with drug problems as an alternative to prison. In the UK, men and women with drug problems must wait for at least six months before they can start rehab. However, in Germany they have immediate rehab centres, reducing the prison population. Karyn went on to say how the early years of teaching/education is very important. She believes to change you need to have political will, information and education, public and media opinion, and have constructive alternatives. Karyn ended her talk by reminding us that we are all striving for similar goals, giving a sense of hope to everyone in the room.

The second half of the CJA Members meeting included talks from the Unlocked Graduates. These were university graduates taking part in a scheme which involves them working as prison officers for two years while also undertaking a fully funded master’s Degree. The scheme aims to reduce the issue of understaffing in prisons, as well as bringing knowledgeable recruits in who are keen to make a change to the criminal justice system. Jack and Saida were the graduates talking at the event, and they have been working as prison officers’ in London for over a year. Many would associate the job of a prison officer with unpleasant working conditions and negativity, however, Jack and Saida although acknowledging the difficulties of the role, were largely positive. Jack noted how quickly you get used to the routines and systems of the prison, and Saida explained how rewarding she found the job, particularly when having meaningful discussions on the landing. The Unlocked Graduates were inspiring and passionate when discussing possible solutions to issues within the criminal justice system.

The CJA members meeting gave us a lot to think about as an organisation and further motivated us to continue to put in the hard work to creating change. It is also pleasant to be reminded that there are many other organisations and individuals who are aiming to achieve goals similar to our own.

 

Written by Anna Ibrahim and Olivia Penn

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