Areas of Expertise
I am passionate about inverstigating what works for a better justice and criminal justice system as well as developing new theory for the promotion of equality and human rights. Here, you can access projects and findings from programmes that I have been running either unfunded or for IARS, RJ4All and others. These would not have been possible without the help of many colleagues and partners.
This has been the field that has dominated my research interest and life for over 10 years. I consider myself to be a student of restorative justice which I define as "an ethos with practical goals among which to restore harm by including affected parties in a (direct or indirect) encounter and a process of understanding through voluntary and honest dialogue. Restorative justice adopts a fresh approach to conflicts and their control, retaining at the same time certain rehabilitative goals"(Gavrielides 2007).
The current criminal justice system is broken. According to the UN, in 2013 there were 7.1 billion of us living on this planet. 10.2 million are in prison. This means that we proudly produce world prison popilation rate of 144 per 100,000. Shockingly, a huge percentage of these are in the United States (2.24m), and Russia (0.68m). We know that when it comes to adult offenders over 60% will re-offend and end up in prison, while for young offenders the rate is 75%. Our current theory and criminal justice practice needs examination and a serious critique. What works and what doesn't?
I am a big believer of user-led methods of research and training and thus I have been pioneering modules on youth-led and other user led methods of research as well as capacity building organisations in the areas of equality and cultural awareness, restorative justice, victims' rights, user engagement and user involvement as well as youth led policy.
The journey has been amazing as I have found myself in places like Middle East, Canada and Chile.
I argue that "disadvantage thinking” has distracted youth policy from the actual issues impacting on young people and hence solutions, legislation, resources and funding have not always been designed for real solutions.
I also argue that the best solutions are found through young people and through youth-led, evidence-based policy and campaigning. But this will mean letting go of our top down, “get tough” youth crime policies, and start believing in the potential of young people independently of labels. I identify an entrenched defeatism and elitism that surrounds current youth justice and equality policy in dealing with disadvantage, inequality and youth crime. The posited way forward is “positive thinking” or as otherwise called “the 99% thinking”.
A new Zeitgeist is coming. Society is changing, and with it the power imbalances that characterise our institutions must be eliminated. In my various roles in the fight for racial equality, I have consistently argued that excluding the voices of community is no longer an option. Least we forget that the battle for justice for Stephen Lawrence was not fought by government or agencies but by his family. This mobilisation of society is also seen in phenomena such as the recent student, demonstrations, the riots, public debates and media attitudes.
The literatire on race equality related matters whether these are to be found in justice, service provision, employment or education is rich
Philo-sophy comes from the Greek word φιλοσοφία meaning to be a friend of wisdom. I trully believe that without understanding, exploring and indeed pushing the philosophical and normative boundaries of our justice system, life, existence, our realities will remain the same.
Normative thinking has helped me discover the path to questioning and to break free from what is said or must be accepted.