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Real-life criminals challenge stereotypes

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Ollie, Beth and LaurenSociology A level students took part in an eye-opening conference when a group of convicted criminals came to talk about their experience of prison and the reasons why they were jailed. After an introduction, the students were able to talk to the speakers in small groups. Ollie Barnes, Beth Potter and Lauren Evans report:

“I was surprised at how honest they actually seemed to be!” says Ollie. “I would never have guessed that they had convictions!” “I was a bit apprehensive about them,” adds Beth, “But they just looked completely honest.”

“They told us about the crimes they’d committed,” says Lauren. “One of them was a drugs dealer. He had a troubled background. Once he’s started committing crimes, it escalated. “Another person used to shoplift in order to pay for drugs.”

“Another person was jailed for fraud,” adds Beth. “He’d claimed to have set up an ostrich farm and sold the meat, but it was a scam. He seemed so genuine – it just made me realise that anyone is potentially capable of anything.”

“What I got out of the conference was that crime is not always the criminal’s fault. It can depend on circumstances,” says Ollie.

“I found it useful experience of unstructured interviews – this is one of the research methods we investigate,” says Beth.

Lauren found the theoretical aspects interesting. “Is it a rational choice to commit crime?”

Main photo: students try out prison garb

Smaller photo l-r: Ollie Barnes, Beth Potter and Lauren Evans