As part of our Talking Justice blog series, Connor shares his candid reflections on his journey navigating Scotland’s justice system.
The starting point
A couple of years ago, I had my first case in court. With drinking, bad environments and bad mental and physical understanding of myself, I was in one big downward spiral. I received a Community Payback Order, with 12 months supervision along with unpaid work.
I found the court process challenging. When I was speaking to the lawyers – or even just in the court room – it was very hard to understand which part of my case they were going on about. They’d jump back and forth. Almost as if they were trying to trip me up, so I’d make a mistake.
It felt like every figure of authority was putting words in my mouth rather than trying to let me find my own
If everyone actually understood that people sometimes go down a few minutes in the wrong direction. If that could just be caught in the moment with the right sort of connection from somebody trying to help. I think it would honestly save so much police time. And, save so many young men and women from entering the system.
It’s more efficient. It wouldn’t be like an ongoing warzone with a person having to fight themselves with what’s going on in their mind, and fight the people who are trying to help them. It’s a hard thing to do. There’s no college course or training. Nothing any human being can actually do to truly understand another human being and why they do something that they’ve done.
But, just having that recollection. A reminder ‘I’m still a human being!’ Even in that moment when you’ve done something wrong. I think this is so important. Society needs to understand this a lot more.
The turning point
I had a supervision worker as part of my community payback order. To start with, I found it very hard to accept a lot of the support coming from them. I felt constantly under pressure. Like, I was being asked to be someone I wasn’t ready to be, or capable of being, at that time. But over time, I just realised I needed to stop looking for excuses and people to blame, and start accepting that I’m just going to take it on the chin and keep walking on.
The system has benefitted me a lot. I have to give it its dues. Even though there were a lot of mental challenges and a lot of mental scars from it. It has opened up a lot of opportunities to me that I wouldn’t have been able to access or even been capable of approaching, if I hadn’t actually been through the system and been forced to do these things.
Now, I live in the moment and I take each day as it comes. I just want to be enjoying life for what it is. I’ve got college starting up this month. I’m moving on to doing a Gateway to Trade Skills course to hopefully pick up a trade and work in my own business in the future. I also recently came into a new relationship. This is probably the most important thing which actually helped me to transform my life. Now I have responsibility for someone else’s feelings, and not just my own anymore.
I now have a wee baby boy. I just hope that he has a lot more opportunities than I did to get out and see a lot more of the world.
Writing this, I’m hoping this is enough to do something. Being able to somehow make a difference for the future folk going through the system, that’s always been an ambition of mine because of how difficult I found it.
Being able to say I’m one step closer to achieving that would be phenomenal.
Our Talking Justice blog series brings together reflections from across our society. We are committed to changing the conversation about justice, increasing understanding and support for what will make Scotland better for all of us. To that end, we have have created a resource that maps out the Scottish justice system. This has been developed into an interactive digital tool: Navigating Scotland’s Justice System.