Dubbo Photo News : 2019-01-03

Emergency Issues : 21 : 21

Emergency Issues

21 Dubbo Photo News January 3-9, 2019 PROFILE Joe Williams’ Theory: Are we wrongly judging criminals? JOE WILLIAMS shot to fame as a teenage football prodigy but played just 50 games in the National Rugby League when he should have nudged 300. After his NRL stint he became a world champion boxer, but through all this sporting success he was plagued by inner demons of drug and alcohol addiction. Years of research has led him to believe his mental problems began after an incredibly severe concussion when he was just 13 years old – that’s when the voices started inside his head. He now travels the world advising individual­s and communitie­s about suicide prevention and has just penned this insightful article about the potential motivation­s of many people who commit crimes. Mental health and crime, he says, are inextricab­ly linked. Wouldn’t we be in a better position if we healed the trauma as children, before developing self-medicating behaviours as young adults? See, with people, we see behaviours, but the behaviours are happening for a reason. When we strip back the behaviours, a lot of the time we find substance abuse; strip back the substance abuse, people self-medicate and use that as a band aid to cover some type of hurt. Peel back the band aid, and that’s when we find trauma and illness. Wouldn’t we be better served healing these traumas and illnesses, rather than locking these people hoping that is good enough’, because there is no addressing the root cause of what leads those people to their behaviours. I believe there needs to be a revamp of the entire system. It is not working. There are so many people being locked up for their behaviours, and no one talks about ‘why they are producing these behaviours’. We need to treat people on their traumas and illness – rather than their behaviours which are happening as a result of covering trauma and addiction (illness). We should heal the trauma and illness rather than locking people away and keeping their behaviours dormant, only to have them arise again on release. We want to see people correcting or healing certain behaviours – especially when they come into contact with the youth justice or incarcerat­ion system – yet we are going about it the wrong way. When we heal the trauma, we begin to make progress in healing the behaviour. Heal the trauma, we heal the behaviour. widely talked about as a mental illness, and we see many who are incarcerat­ed – are locked away inside – on the back of crimes committed whilst heavily influenced by drugs or alcohol. Knowing the research, addictions and mental illness are now being widely talked about as genetic illnesses, passed down from generation to generation. Are we seeing people locked up for symptoms of illnesses they’re born with? I understand that people are incarcerat­ed for particular behaviours, fair enough, these certain behaviours are not tolerated in society, I understand this; but what if individual­s, when judged on these behaviours, were judged on a history of trauma, because in a lot of cases the behaviours are directly linked as a symptom of trauma. What if when they were incarcerat­ed, they were actually rehabilita­ted? Instead of just being locked up for a period of time, to have further trauma perpetrate­d? What if we actually got to these individual­s before the behaviours were part of their daily and normalised habits? away – which really, is another band aid. I’ve known of individual­s who have been locked away, incarcerat­ed, placed in a cell for up to 23 hours a day – tell me how that is rehabilita­ting? That type of punishment does absolutely nothing positive for a mind that is: (1) Unwell; (2) Trying to navigate its way through trauma and illness – trauma and illness that is, in many many cases, developed in the womb – a very long time before it is played out in behaviours that get them incarcerat­ed. The way I see the prison system as is, it’s not working. We see individual­s locked up, doing their time (where the problem or root cause lays dormant – i.e. a band aid), then on release, many head back to the exact same environmen­t, with the exact same habits – of alcohol and drug use, a self-medicating tool that leads them to behaviours that point them back toward the incarcerat­ion system. As is, there is very little rehabilita­tion of behaviours, and it is a case of ‘locking them away and Joe Williams OPINION ❚ ARE we wrongly judging criminals? Now I have your attention, I would like to say it is my belief that we as a society are casting judgment on people and even looking at those incarcerat­ed through the wrong set of eyes. People are locked away for behaviours, but I am a huge believer in finding the root cause of people’s behaviours. The ‘why’. I would be interested to see the statistics around every person who is incarcerat­ed throughout Australia, and their relationsh­ip or links to mental illness and/or trauma. I would go as far as saying, for the majority of people, addiction and behaviours are symptomati­c of trauma and/or mental illness. Many individual­s self-medicate to hide the trauma and/or illness. Addictions are also now being  Wouldn’t we be better served healing these traumas and illnesses, rather than locking these people away – which really, is another band aid... 

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