Our journey to social justice starts from many routes. For Murray Riches, he was so affected by the imprisonment of his 10 year old foster brother that he has dedicated his life to understanding ‘why’ it happened.As Murray puts it
“I have clear memories of how my foster-brother’s self was diminished by this, and our family became voiceless once he was deemed to be a criminal... It was a confronting experience and it was the first time I realised my privileged experience of being middle-class, white person wasn’t shared by everyone. That was a foundation moment that started my journey to social justice, activism and advocacy.”
Murray, who works as a youth mentor with Anglican Action in Hamilton, has just completed his masters research, which looks at the limitations on media reporting of crime and criminals. As part of the research, he also spent a year as a participant/observer in an offender rehabilitation programme for men deemed ‘high risk’ and serving jail for up to 20 years. The big message in Murray’s research is “until we are able to understand a person’s full story, and therefore their full humanity, the fear and prejudices about criminals will remain“. Murray’s research is powerful in its humanitarian message, and worthy of a broad readership. Let’s hope a book follows.