Scotland's Justice Warrior

Episodes

First
Broadcast
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20190812

After cleaning up Glasgow's reputation as 'murder capital of Europe' and seeing her blueprint copied in London and elsewhere, Karyn McCluskey, the driving force behind the city's Violence Reduction Unit, has earned a reputation as a criminal justice trailblazer.

Now, as head of Community Justice Scotland, Karyn has taken on an even more complex task. She is set on nothing less than shifting the nation’s perception of justice.

A cornerstone of her argument is making the case that the people who get locked up are as much victims of society as they are wicked perpetrators of crime. Born into disadvantage, they arrive, in a sense, imprisoned already. She wants to see low level offenders supported in the community instead of incarcerated.

Evidence shows this reduces the risk of re-offending, but will Scots see this as 'going too soft' on criminals? Or can Karyn yet again revolutionise Scotland’s approach to criminal justice, setting a course for others to follow?

Certainly, the evidence for a change of direction is on Karyn's side: currently, 6 in 10 of those given a short prison sentence re-offend within a year compared to 3 in 10 of those given a community sentence.

Despite the evidence, CJS data shows Scottish people want to see criminals sent to prison. For Karyn, this is a frustrating and bitter pill to swallow, and flies in the face of her ‘smart justice’ model.

Against the backdrop of a volatile political landscape, a media preoccupied with stories on hard versus soft justice and a judicial system that isn't entirely convinced by the effectiveness of community sentencing, can Karyn change hearts and minds?

Producer: Caitlin Smith

Can society accept justice without imprisonment?

After cleaning up Glasgow's reputation as 'murder capital of Europe' and seeing her blueprint copied in London and elsewhere, Karyn McCluskey, the driving force behind the city's Violence Reduction Unit, has earned a reputation as a criminal justice trailblazer.

Now, as head of Community Justice Scotland, Karyn has taken on an even more complex task. She is set on nothing less than shifting the nation’s perception of justice.

A cornerstone of her argument is making the case that the people who get locked up are as much victims of society as they are wicked perpetrators of crime. Born into disadvantage, they arrive, in a sense, imprisoned already.

Against the backdrop of a populist political landscape, a skeptical media and a public who want to see criminals serve the longest possible sentence, can Karyn change hearts and minds?

Producer: Caitlin Smith

Can society accept justice without imprisonment?