In a previous blog post, I wrote about the Pro Bono society and some of the amazing opportunities that come with being a member, one of which was a talk held a few days ago which offered a fascinating insight into the powerful story of being a victim of miscarriage of justice.
We were incredibly lucky to have John Kamara come and talk to us. 36 years ago, John Kamara was convicted of a crime he did not commit and subsequently served 20 years wrongly incarcerated. He spoke to us for two hours (which still was not enough considering the depth of what he had to talk about) and gave us a wonderful mixture of anecdotes and insightful descriptions of his experiences of securing appeal and his ultimate readjustment to life outside prison. It was a talk that truly covered all areas of what is important to understand about the implications of a miscarriage of justice and hearing it all first-hand was nothing if not moving.
John’s talk reminded me a little of a Scarman lecture at the beginning of my first year at Leicester, in which Ben Gunn spoke about his experience inside prison for 32 years. You can listen to the lecture here. I specifically remember being quite shocked at his very critical approach to prisons, but having now studied criminology for just over two years, his approach is one which I am now very familiar with and agree with. It really shows what a difference university can make to your perceptions and understanding of the world around. As with all Scarman lectures, this talk was available to anyone and similarly, you don’t have to be a Pro Bono member to attend talks like the John Kamara talk. The bonus of being part of Pro Bono is that it’s free (but only £2 for non-members) and you might get some added benefits!
Those of us on the Miscarriages of Justice Project in the Pro Bono society were able to talk to John after his lecture and get a little more of a personal insight. We also had the opportunity to look through the case files that secured his wrongful conviction as well as his process of appeal. This experience was incredibly rewarding and will be extremely useful when we start legal research for our clients claiming wrongful conviction and who are still incarcerated.
Later on today, we will be meeting the Criminal Cases Review Commission to learn more about the process of appeal and John will be joining us again.