Louis Mallia has been in and out of prison since he was just 17 years old. His last conviction landed him behind bars for 16 long years. Right now he’s serving the last year of his sentence at the RISe Foundation, a community-based rehabilitation program that supports offenders in changing their behaviour and attitude before re-entering society.
We sat down with Louis for an intimate one-on-one interview in which he opened up about his raw and rough life experience, as well as his hopes and dreams for the future.
Most would agree that, for the victims of crime, there can be no forgiveness or closure without justice. But what does justice truly mean? Sitting down with Louis, a man who spent the better part of his life behind bars, has made me reflect on that question more deeply.
Charles Mifsud, who directs the RISe Foundation, believes that true justice is done by breaking free from the vicious cycle which would have led a person to prison in the first place. He believes criminals should be deprived of their personal liberty, but not their dignity. He also embodies the love, kindness and compassion that the residents of his programme desperately need and which they have been starved of for so long.
Locking a person into a cell and throwing away the key is not justice, but vengeance. Vengeance only sows bitterness and hate and worse perpetuates the effects of the wrong that has been done.
Through the RISe programme prisoners are being given a second chance at life. There’s a lot I learned from this interview, but if there’s one thing I take away from the experience, it’s that everybody deserves a second chance.