"People Are A Lot More Than Their Mistakes" - Her Reader Speaks Out About Michaella McCollum 5 years ago

"People Are A Lot More Than Their Mistakes" - Her Reader Speaks Out About Michaella McCollum

Another interesting perspective.

Michaella McCollum's case has been the subject of hot debate since her premature release from Peruvian prison on Friday.


A letter we published yesterday, from a reader whose parent suffers from drug addiction, has received a lot of traction online - however, the opinions and arguments on the subject are wide-ranging.

Today we received a compelling letter from a different point of view, from Her reader and Assistant Psychologist Grace Kealy.

Have a read.

I would like to share my views on this Michaella McCollum situation/criminality in a general sense to promote a wider understanding, that is unbiased and more compassionate.

There has been a huge lack of empathy, understanding and compassion generated through the media recently and I think it would be nice/helpful to counter that with a more balanced perspective/informed view.

We tend to view criminality in a very black and white way. When in reality, it is not a matter of goodies versus baddies, or moral corruption. People tend to fall into criminal behaviour due to a variety of psycho-social factors.


I guarantee that nearly every person behind bars has a unique story to tell - that contains hardship, psychological suffering, and pain. As well - society at large has a role to play in this - factors like poverty, social inequality, lack of education, outlet, or opportunity - can all play a role in a person turning to criminal behaviour.

This is reflected in the demographics of criminal populations worldwide. People are a lot more than their mistakes.

There is a pearl and shadow side to each of us, and given harsh enough conditions or a culture that condones it (or where it is normalised/minimised), any one of us could end up in dire straits. There was a show on RTE last night interviewing the family members of criminals. It gave insight into the individuals behind that label; the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends. Their family members shared fond memories, describing their loved ones dearly, as good people, with a lot of redeemable qualities.

I'm not condoning criminal behaviour, but I am suggesting that we look at it with a wider lens. Understanding the reasons as to why a person would engage in criminality in the first place gives us more potential to prevent it - thus protecting society at large.

However, by burying our heads in the sand, taking moral high ground, and refusing to look at the bigger picture - we serve only to isolate, marginalise and misunderstand the issue - leading to further rates of recidivism and harm.