Following the launch of the ‘Justice and Mercy’ report, a set of challenging recommendations for action and online resources in October 2020, Caritas Leeds held a public event at New Wortley Community Centre in Leeds in October 2021. This had the title of: ‘Justice and Mercy: your next steps?’. It consisted of a briefing about this three-year Caritas Leeds initiative by Deacon Joe Cortis, Coordinator of Caritas Leeds and Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice Inquiry. An update on the action taken so far to meet the recommendations for action was given by Tom Chigbo, Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice Inquiry. The meeting heard messages of support from the Rt Rev Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds, Rt Rev. Richard Moth, Liaison Bishop for Prisons for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales and the Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. The gathering was also addressed by Alison Lowe, Deputy Mayor for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The main part of the event was the Launch of the FaithWorks Framework developed between Caritas Leeds and the West Yorkshire Police. This consists of 4 workshops (between December 2021-March 2022) with the aim of raising awareness about pathways to criminality involving young people and vulnerable adults and a call for action. Each workshop will be embedded with input from Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching.
There is an excellent research centre that focuses on mental health and the criminal justice system. Of particular note is a podcast of an interview given by Graham Durcan about mental health in prisons and why a fundamental change is vital. This centre also has articles about mental health in general: https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/topics/criminal-justice
Life in Prison: This workshop is led by Chris White the Catholic Chaplain at HMP Leeds. It offers an insight of life in prison, making also references to the particular challenges enforced due to the Covid 19 pandemic. It also offers information about the different categories of prisons and poses searching questions for the viewer to consider and reflect on. It also offers ways of supporting prisoners and their families.
Life After Prison: This workshop was led by Jane Deguarre, Chief Executive officer of WCCP-Resettlement project which is based at HMP Leeds. Jane offers an overview of this ecumenical project and adopts a case study approach to highlight the challenges experienced by released prisoners. It also offers a number of challenging questions which may well change prior views of criminality.
Restorative Justice: One of the main drivers of the Caritas Leeds Criminal Justice Inquiry was the concept of restorative justice because it links strongly with Gospel teaching and Catholic Social teaching. In this workshop, Caroline Rountree, an experienced restorative justice practitioner offers a realistic overview of restorative justice, drawing on personal experience.
Criminal Justice Inquiry