Steven Gallant, a convicted murderer who helped thwart an attack on London Bridge in November may be released early from prison due to his heroic actions. Did Gallant’s actions show that he has been successfully rehabilitated?
Steven Gallant, a convicted murderer, chose to place his own life at risk to prevent harm to others. It is wishful thinking to assume we would all respond in similar fashion to a situation in which instinct plays such a prominent role. Steven is a rare and entirely authentic case of rehabilitation which at a glance might instil some faith in the British prison system. However, to Mr Gallant’s credit, his story is not the norm. On the 29thNovember 2019 Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist, took the lives of two individuals during a random and brutal knife attack in central London. This then spilled out into a confrontation on London Bridge, the death toll would undoubtably have been higher had it not been for Mr Gallant.
In 2005, Mr Gallant was found guilty of the brutal murder of Hull Fireman, Barrie Jackson. He entered the prison system a reckless, illiterate and recurrent cliché in our society. That of a violent young man who had cost himself his future and another young man his father. He will re-enter society a man who has proved his rehabilitation with concrete conviction, making him a noteworthy exception to the patterns of behaviour often seen in the prison system, as the following data suggests.
Of the 79,175 inmates in the UK, approximately 50% are functionally illiterate and 2.5% are studying for a degree. Gallant’s transformative years have seen him learn to read and write and ultimately pursue a business degree. He has demonstrated a commendable resolve to better himself having engaged with the Learning Together scheme which provides an education to inmates in the British prison system.
The rate of recidivism for UK inmates is around 62%, 76% in the US and 20% in Norway. The Norwegian system is designed to rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates into their society and their economy. This is vastly more expensive, and their prison population is infinitely less expansive. However, with this in mind I propose the broad philosophy of the British system as one not of rehabilitation, but one in which inmates pay their debt to society and each forgoes their civil liberties.
He has claimed that his character has been reformed beyond recognition, “I can never bring that life back, and it is right that I was handed a severe penalty for my actions. Once I’d accepted my punishment, I decided to seek help”.
Under conventional circumstances a cynic could consider this statement a predictable platitude, so rarely does an inmate find their moral compass utilised on such public terrain.
Steven Gallant took the life of one innocent man, Usman Khan took the lives of two commendable young people. Yet, Steven put his life at risk to prevent the further loss of life.
“I saw injured people. Khan was stood in the foyer with two large knives in his hands.”….”He was a clear danger to all, so I didn’t hesitate.”
Given the parallels between this attack and Gallant’s own crime, this act of altruism should demonstrate his debt to society paid.
Steven has already served 15 years of his 17-year sentence with his earliest parole date only 10 months away. It would seem that this is a uniquely quantifiable and distinctly justifiable case for early release, rewardable by the reintroduction to civic life. Ultimately the state should be seen to reward gallantry and society should be seen to reward repentance and reform.
Featured Image source: Hull Daily Mail