By Zac Mott
I would like to start this by thanking the whole CJA team for making me feel very welcome, teaching me a great deal, and allowing me to be a part of the team for the last two weeks! The Criminal Justice Alliance is a truly welcoming organisation with an open and friendly culture. I am very appreciative to have been given the opportunity to experience the CJA and the world of criminal justice policy, if only briefly.
As an Unlocked Graduate Band 3 prison officer used to working in a gloomy understaffed prison, it has been an interesting and stimulating two weeks. Amongst the hectic backdrop of London, I could tell the CJA team truly understand the justice sector and work hard to make a real difference. It was nice to be the most uninformed individual in the room.
I come from a Northwest prison near Warrington and am the Equalities Officer for the prison. In my time as the Equalities Officer, I have successfully translated six pertinent prison applications into a range of languages so that foreign national prisoners can more easily understand them. I have set up a ‘foreign national prisoners forum’ to provide a platform and a voice and an outlet for those whose first language is not English. In my most recent project, I am securing a small budget to purchase a range of books so that all prisoners can have access to reading material in their native languages.
The most heartening aspect of my time at the CJA has been to see how the modern problems I face in a frontline position are echoed through the work of an organisation that cuts across the whole criminal justice system. It can be a lonely and challenging job being the individual representing equality in a prison – and it was very refreshing to be with talented individuals who are fighting for equality, fairness, and change to the whole system.
I have had the pleasure to learn, contribute my opinion, and get a broader perspective on various other parts of the CJS such as the problems of remand, s60 stop and search, Black, Asian and minority ethnic women in prison and the double disadvantage they face. Additionally, I have enjoyed learning the ins-and-outs, daily operations, and runnings of a charity. I have developed knowledge and perspectives that I will bring back to the prison, including the use of Equality Impact Assessments, with which I hope to discuss with my governor about how we could utilise these in the operations and strategy of my prison.
All in all, I wish to say a big thank you again to the CJA team for the opportunity and experience, and a very big congratulations for their recent successful launch of the race equality report. Most importantly, please keep up the good work and continue to fight for a fairer and more effective criminal justice system!