Not everyone considers their offence the "wrong choice"

Eppie Sprung, Next Chapter Scotland
May 7, 2024

My grandad was epic, a force to be reckoned with! He was a political activist who spent his entire life fighting against oppression and injustice.


I don’t know how many times he was arrested but it will have been a lot.


My favourite story of his political activism is when he ran onto the pitch of a Springbok's rugby match and grabbed the ball, mid-play, to protest against apartheid in South Africa. Another that always makes me smile was when he went into the House of Commons with a placard smuggled up his jumper and pulled it out once the MPs had started speaking.


I come from a long line of political activists. Many of my family members have taken part in direct action that has broken laws. They’ve done this knowing full well the consequences of their actions and would, without a doubt, repeat their actions time and time again in the fight against oppressions and injustice in all its forms. As the great song, The Criminal by Jim Woodland, captures:

“I’d break the law as I did before for what I think is right.”


I’m telling you this to assure you that, at Next Chapter Scotland, we understand that not everyone would class their offence as one of their “worst choices”.


When agreeing on our Vision, the Board members spent a good deal of time trying to find language that would explain, succinctly, the sort of world we want to see. Succinctly because today’s world of marketing means that we have to be able to explain what we’re fighting for in a snappy way that will fit into a social media post.


We settled on “our vision is of a society that no longer judges people based on their worst choices but, instead, sees them as they are today” because we felt that it captured not only what the vast majority of people who have been through the criminal justice system feel, but it also captures the way that a lot of society views the offences people are convicted of.


In time we may be able to find a new way of expressing our vision in a more inclusive way that incorporates: people who have broken the law because they felt it was the most effective way to fight for what they felt was right; those who have experienced false allegations and miscarriages of justice; as well as those who, with hindsight, wish they had made different choices.


If anyone would like to suggest a new wording for our vision, I would love to hear it. Please email me at: eppie@nextchapterscotland.org.uk


In the meantime, please know that we are here to support everyone, regardless of how they came by their criminal record because, ultimately, the stigma and discrimination can affect us all.

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