One offender, one court case, one prison sentence.
Quite straightforward retribution and punishment; done, dusted, out of sight and out of mind.
Well not quite, not at LandWorks.
It’s not unusual in the first few weeks of a placement to hear, “I didn’t actually do the crime I was sent down for”, “My sentence isn’t really fair compared to other peoples’ crime.”
There are slightly more extreme versions, often the justifications of a drug dealer: “There were no victims”, “I provide a service”, “No way am I stopping at earning 3K a week, I’ll take a few years’ lie-down in prison”, “I was set up by the cops”.
Part of the journey here is to reflect on criminal activity and to develop a non-criminal identity. It takes some self-awareness and a lot of encouragement to admit that you were involved, that you have victims, that there was a criminal lifestyle.
I don’t mind admitting that this is hard for all involved.
But, over time, it’s not unusual for an offender to calculate how many people have been affected by their one criminal act…
It is very often well over one hundred individuals. The victim(s) and the offender, then add in families, friends, work colleagues and police, prison and probation officers and many more.
By the very nature of how we work, forming good individual relationships, I start to like people for who they are…who they are today.
One man who I thought I had grown to like, described to me how he killed somebody (previous sentence). A brutal knife fight that devastated lives around him.
Giving me much to brood over… the shadows of the day often come back to join me, haunting stories spinning around in my head.
As I stumbled around trying to understand his life, I realised… I could still like him.
Which is not endorsing his criminal actions but respecting his many good qualities and who he has become today.
I could be alongside.
Perhaps I joined his one hundred.