The Advanced Higher Modern Studies Crime and Justice Conference, held on 24 November, was a unique opportunity to get information and insight from experts in the field, who shared their personal experiences and thoughts on the changes needed in the Justice System.
The event brought together approximately 420 Advanced Higher pupils and teachers from 38 schools across Scotland, to help develop a better understanding of the Advanced Higher course, and also how to relate this to the real world.
The event was a huge success, with a great many highlights. Former Sheriff David Mackie’s stories about his unique way of running his hearings and the innovative ways he dealt with the people he was sentencing: creating relationships with people and making them feel as though someone cared about their lives, and also that there is someone to hold them accountable.
Katherine Mackie, also a former Sheriff, helped answer some of our questions and gave us an alternative angle on relationships with the accused, and how to improve the criminal justice system through having fewer people in it and using effective early intervention.
The presentation by Rachael Moss on Restorative Justice was informative and laid out the biases of Restorative Justice and its setbacks and challenges. Her presentation also set out the aims for Restorative Justice to be provided across Scotland by 2023 and the success of the 12 out of 32 local authorities where it has already been put in place.
The inspiring stories told by Heavy Sound’s George, Malky and Linda fully highlighted the issues and failings within the prison system and how they aim to have people like them in prisons acting as a peer support system. Hearing from people like them “who have been there and done that” was hugely insightful.
Lindsey Miller told us about the role of Prosecutors in problem solving-justice, providing an inside look into the different sentences available and what is taken into consideration when sentencing, such as the safety of the public.
The Trauma Aware Law Team, which included the expertise of Kirsty Giles, Melissa Rutherford, James Docherty and Iain Smith, gave us a deeper insight into Adverse Childhood Experiences, what it means to be trauma aware and how hard it is to work within “a broken system”.
The event highlighted, very clearly, the need for reform within the Justice System and the failings that are holding the system back. It illustrated that there are initiatives in place and people who want to make the system less about punishment and more about reform. Progress is starting to be made, but there is still a long road ahead. In all the event was a huge success and made everyone attending think more about the people in the system and less about statistics.
The lasting quote Ian Smith shared by Ruth Bader Ginsburg "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that allows people to join you”.
Hannah Colliston (S6)