Yesterday, Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, gave a guest lecture about working in activism and campaigning in criminal justice. This was as part of a unique Criminology module in which a different guest lecturer every week gives a presentation about their field of work and then answers questions from students and staff in a Q&A style.
I’ve found Frances Crook an incredibly inspiring figure since I first started researching Criminology before I started my degree here and when she guest lectured last year for first year Criminology students it was like having a real Criminology celebrity at our uni. I distinctly remember her asking us which of us want to make the world a better place and commenting on the idealism of, particularly, young university students, then pointing us towards voting in last year’s general election as a starting point. This made me think how it can seem a daunting and faraway dream to imagine yourself making a real difference to the world, but in reality, making a difference is entirely at our fingertips even now, and tomorrow starts today, not tomorrow…
Frances’ talk yesterday was just as inspiring for me as she explained the operation and activities of the Howard League as well as the countless challenges facing today’s criminal justice system. Hearing the Howard League’s successes as a national charity whose aim is essentially to improve the role of prisons and offender management in our community was truly eye-opening and I was really grateful to have had such an insight into this world and possible career path.
Lectures like this are wonderful, because not only do they demonstrate the huge applicability of our degrees to real and current life, but they also remind us that our degrees and what we learn are not at all just about learning information to pass an exam. Yesterday I learnt new things about a type of work I had never really considered before my degree and I left my lecture really inspired to experience more of this type of work for myself and perhaps to become a part of it. The module ‘Working in Criminal Justice’ has similar guest speakers discussing working in the police, the prison service, the youth offending service, the probation service, forensic science and other areas in the criminal justice field, which is such a rare and amazing opportunity to actually hear in person and speak to a true expert.