An ex-convict speaks


The second of this term’s Grecians’ (Upper Sixth Form) Lecture programme was given by Erwin James, author of ‘A Life Inside’ and its sequel ‘The Home Stretch’.

He has written articles for national newspapers and won prizes for prose. A year after his release from prison in 2004, James became a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust.

CH Grecian (Year 13 pupil), Chania, gave her thoughts on the lecture: “It was a pleasant surprise that such a controversial character had been invited to speak. His criminal record proved his story is quite different from the norm; his message was one of resilience and determination. To us, he was the voice of the unseen prisoners that society so desperately hides away and often condemns repeatedly for unchanged behaviours. James stressed rehabilitation and directed this to us like we’re the next world leaders, but to him I think we are.

“He seemed to have this respect for us because he understood how easy it is to go wrong, and that to change the world doesn’t have to mean all seven billion people hear you, persistence and a few words can phenomenally change the world of one.

“He felt this first hand when at the age of 30 his prison psychologist convinced him that he had value and was worth education, only after this did his aptitude for journalism show. James suggested that prison hadn’t changed him, but had allowed him to be who he feels he always should have been. He invaluably taught us that bad behaviour often doesn’t come from a bad heart.”

James is a patron of the charity CREATE, an organisation that promotes the arts and creative activities among marginalised groups; a patron of Blue Sky, the award winning social enterprise company that trains and employs ex-offenders; and a patron of The Reader Organisation, a national charity that, “aims to bring about a Reading Revolution.”

Contributed by Christ’s Hospital School.