Reporter: Phoebe Merrifield
If you’d happened to be passing by Moulton School at 7:30am, on Tuesday the 3rd of November 2015, you’d have found a growing crowd of Sixth Formers waiting near or around the bus bays. You may think this strange, registration doesn’t begin for another hour and fifteen minutes, and the presence of a subtle buzz among them is confusing for a group of teenagers at 7:30am. Well, what you may not have realised is that this is not an average school day for these Psychology, Sociology and Health and Social Care students. This was the morning of a trip down to Birmingham, to be part of a conference involving ex-convicts talking about and sharing their different stories.
The purpose of the conference was to achieve an educational insight into the minds and workings of these people, to be able to obtain a greater knowledge of how we punish criminals in this country, what for and why. We also wanted to form further educated opinions and thoughts about how or if prison works and whether it can change these individuals.
The talks included 5 different ex-convicts (including the presenter of the whole seminar) who’d all committed different crimes, from stealing vehicles to premeditated murder. Each ex-convict gave their own story, from their childhood, growing up, early adulthood and their crimes, through to their time spent in prison and their current occupations and lifestyle now. After everyone’s stories and a quick lunch break, students were given the chance to ask any questions they had about their lives, opinions and motives. These ranged from serious questions about family situations to more trivial ones about what football team they support.
All their stories were moving and gave a clear understanding of the thoughts and events that may have caused or contributed to their incarceration. It was something that a lot of students walked away from feeling like they had gained a further understanding of human behaviour and prison life; some students went into it with one opinion and came out with another. It was a hugely interesting and unique experience, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.