A view from across the pond: my time with Khulisa

Khulisa hosted two Political Science students from the US on their visit London to learn more about UK charities working in the education and criminal justice space. In this piece, we hear from Silian Moreno about her experience of shadowing at Khulisa and her thoughts on the UK's criminal justice system.

I was very impressed by the UK’s efforts to prevent social exclusion and crime. Visiting the country for the first time, I did not expect to see the amount of crime currently facing London. Of course, the US trumps the crime rate, with a headline almost every week about a new shooting in some part of the country. It is unfortunate that when foreigners hear the news, the US always has some spotlight on crime. However, it was time for me to educate myself about the UK’s criminal justice system and the different Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that support work in the UK. 

"Being from the US, I almost never hear of crimes happening in the UK - I’ve only watched Lord Voldemort attacking Hogwarts."

Khulisa works with at-risk youth, prisoners, and ex-offenders to help them understand and address the root causes of their actions. During my time at Khulisa, I had the chance to hear what the people delivering programmes had to say about the system and why they work with young people to better their lives and prevent crime.

Crime rates differ hugely around the world and countries have different ways of addressing violence within their territory. The UK crime rate is ranked 42nd highest in the world and the US is ranked 30th (16% more than the UK.) So what is it that the UK is doing right? First, I looked at the research Khulisa had carried out on the causes of crime and exclusion.

Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences can increase the likelihood of a young person being excluded from school. In addition, young people who have grown up in care are disproportionately represented in the UK’s prison system. In the US, 70% of youths in juvenile systems at least one mental health condition. 

Fighting crime is essential for keeping communities safe, tackling violence against women, and reducing acts of extremism and hatred. The US has many programs that focus on helping families and women that need aid – we have a welfare system that is funded through taxes and a foster system regulated by social workers and judges. In some states, schemes to aid offender reintegration are well supported while in other parts of the country, it’s very hard for ex-offenders to re-enter society.

"When offenders come out of prison, they often relapse or have a difficult time getting back into society. In the United States, about 76% of all inmates end up back in jail within 5 years."

In conclusion, while the UK and US face different challenges, both countries can benefit from early intervention approaches that look at the root causes of crime. Khulisa has done a brilliant job at developing programs for at-risk youth, offenders and ex-offenders that reduce reoffending and improve social and emotional wellbeing. Coming from a different country to the UK for the first time really impacted me and taught me so much about the UK’s culture and care for their people. 

Silian Moreno is a student at California Polytechnic Pomona University studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

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