Everyone deserves a second chance

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Community Justice Scotland’s acclaimed ’Second Chancers’ campaign is currently on display in The Gallery at Elgin Library from 10am to 5pm until Friday, 21 December. Aimed at changing perceptions of what justice should look like in 21st century Scotland, Second Chancers is centred on the voices of those whose lives have been touched by the justice system.

Each story has a short audio clip and a canvas picture. Viewers can engage with the stories via an app which is free and quick to download. Once downloaded, viewers can walk up to each canvas, press play and listen to the story.

The people sharing their stories may have come from a background of crime, have made a one-off mistake, been a victim of crime or have battled with addiction and mental health issues.  Their stories also showcase the unpaid work projects that have restored pride to their communities.

Some of the participants are a million miles away from their past, some are still walking the road to recovery – but all demonstrate how effective recognizing and responding to the person and their particular needs can be. And all tell the story of people who, through hard work, support and sheer grit, have grabbed a second chance and changed everything.

As the Second Chancers campaign website explains: “Times are changing in Scotland. A new way of thinking is emerging and a movement for a smarter justice system is beginning.

“Sentences served in the community are more effective than sentences served in prison. Yet nearly two thirds of Scots don’t know what community justice is. This needs to change. We want to raise awareness of what community justice is and build confidence in it as an effective sentencing option that reduces offending, reduces the number of victims and improves lives.

“The Second Chancers campaign explores positivity, hope, aspiration and chaos through the lens of people with experience of the justice system. It gives a voice to people who have been let down and rejected, who have pulled themselves up and fought for better. Who have grabbed a second chance. We don’t want your sympathy and we don’t need your pity. We are asking you to listen.”

As local Community Justice Coordinator Mike Whelan explains: “Community Justice involves a diverse range of services, including health, housing, social work, the third sector, as well as the police and courts, working together to repair harm to the community, address offending behaviour and support reintegration back into society.”

Learn more about what a smarter modern justice system could look like in Scotland, and listen to a selection of touching stories which could revolutionise your thinking by visiting the Second Chancers exhibition at Elgin Library before the end of the week, and the website at https://secondchancers.tv/