Friday, 29 July 2011

Britains Alcatraz - by Mary PFV volunteer

Yet another self harming incident at Woodhill Prison!! 

Lee Foyle who had already sliced his ear off was able to do the same to his other ear while the prison governor was holding an inquiry into the first incident!!

And we are supposed to accept that 'Prison Works'???  Britain's Alcatraz obviously doesn't.

Please Click here to read the full story over at The Guardian

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Back to the Parole Board :-( by Mary PFV volunteer

As you know here at PFV we often mention our friend Prisoner Ben, incarcerated from the age of 14 for a crime, which if committed today, would certainly not see someone of that age spending the next 31 years in prison. Imagine our disappointment then to hear he has now been referred back to the parole board, hopefully within yet another year!! Please click HERE to read his post on this.

How galling it must be, finally, after more than 31 years, to turn up at the open prison you have spent so long trying to get to, only to be turned away at the gate? Left in limbo in Cardiff before being sent back to where you came!! and all due to an unfortunate "admin error"?. Then in an act of desperate jubilation upon being told you were again on the move to open, you used an illegal mobile phone. Stupid or not, who can blame him in trying to let his partner know what was happening? Please continue to help support Ben, comments or messages of support can be left on either his or the Free Prisoner Ben facebook page.

I think John Hirst, the jailhouselawyer has got a valid point when he ask if it's time to abolish parole boards.
Please CLICK HERE to read his post.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Cameron turns blind eye to torture in South Africa

Cameron’s meeting with South Africa’s president Zuma

The UK was complicit in CIA torture flights, under the Labour administration when first Jack Straw, and then David Miliband, were Foreign Secretary. Under the Coalition William Hague is Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. Still the UK is complicit in torture, only this time it is being committed in South Africa. Mr Cameron said: "I think it right for Britain to be engaged with South Africa and to be engaged with Africa as a whole. There is a huge opportunity for trade, for growth, for jobs, including jobs at home in the UK".

Whilst our courts are reluctant, and quite rightly so in spite ofDominic Raab's view to the contrary, to deport refugees, failed asylum seekers and foreign criminals to countries where they are likely to be tortured and killed. How can it be legally and morally right to have trade links with such countries where torture is rife? It makes me physically ill at the thought that David Cameron is prepared to turn a Nelsonian blind eye to the obvious!

CLICK HERE for more over at Jailhouse Lawyer's Blog

Kate's Wedding Dress On Display At Palace

The gown will be the centre piece of an exhibition about theRoyal Wedding and form part of the annual summer opening.

As well as the dress, visitors will also see some of the jewellery worn by the Duchess when she married Prince William, as well as her shoes, veil and flowers.

CLICK HERE for more! Source Sky News

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Imprisonment Affecting The Elderly - By Jess

Hi PFV. My brother is in prison and I was wondering if there is any help or organisations that can support the elderly being affected by imprisonment? My mum is a pensioner and is pretty set in her ways. She still thinks that prison is porridge and slopping out. She doesn't understand anything about life in prison. She is having sleepless nights thinking about the victim and their family, and on top on that, she is worrying about her son in prison because she can't get her head around the prison politics etc. The reason I have also brought this subject up about pensioners dealing with their loved ones in prison is because I rarely read about it online and think that more people should be made aware of the complications with the elderly affected by imprisonment.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Prisoner Ben Back In Front Of Parole Board

So here I go again, back in front of the parole board. A nameless bureaucrat hidden in the Ministry of Justice has decided that my taking advantage of mobile phones in prison is such a heinous crime that it warrants the Parole Board being invited to reconsider their decision to send me to open prison.

As long term readers will recall, the last visit to the board took a year and comprised of an administrative shambles.

The portents are not good.

Grief Landed Father In Prison

Two years ago, a dear friend of mine passed away. She left behind lots of loved ones, including her 2 year old son, who is now 4. The little one lived with his Dad, who then through grief, turned to drink. 5 months ago, he was charged with a section 18 offence and received a 6 year IPP sentence. The little boy is now living with his elderly grandparents. He witnessed his Dad commit an horrendous crime and has regular nightmares. He's no Mum has she passed away and now he technically has no father because he will be in prison for a long time. I spoke to his grandparents and they are getting no help off the Government whatsoever and I find this a disgrace. They have basically been left to their own devices to raise a damaged little boy, who is adorable by the way. I have to say that I had never given children of prisoners a second thought until I had experienced this. I help my friends grandparents by having the little boy twice a week to give them a break. I found your site through the Google search engine and just thought I would share my story with you.


Time To Abolish The Parole Board? - By Jailhouse Lawyer

Time to abolish the Parole Board?

Parole Board publishes Annual Report and Accounts for 2010/11

Download a copy of the Annual Report and Accounts 2010/11

The Report states that Oral hearings – 3 member panels for the hearing of lifer, IPP and ESP cases costs £2,532 per case. There were 25,566 cases. That's a staggering cost of £64,733,112 to the taxpayers!

"Oral hearings

These normally take place in prison. For life sentence prisoners they will usually be chaired by a judge, but some IPP cases will be chaired by an experienced Parole Board member. Where the circumstances of the case warrant it the panel will include a psychologist or psychiatrist. The third person will be an independent or probation member.

In addition to the prisoner and the panel, others who may be present include the legal representative of the prisoner, together with a public protection advocate representing the Secretary of State and the victim, and witnesses such as the prisoner’s offender manager and prison psychologist. The victim might also be in attendance in order to present their victim personal statement.

CLICK HERE and read more over at Jailhouse Lawyer's Blog

Monday, 18 July 2011

Prison Relationship Breakdown

My partner got an IPP sentence last year and I feel I cannot cope anymore with this prison journey, so I have ended our relationship. It will be years before he is out of prison and I have to move on. It's not been an easy decision and it has broken my heart. We have a three year old daughter and I promised I will take her to see him as much as I can afford to, because it's not her fault she has been thrust in to this situation. But when I took her to visit him last week, he broke down and I feel awful. My friends and family said it's his fault he's in prison and I agree it is, but they don't have to sit there with him and don't have to experience this emotional rollercoaster ride. In fact, they are clueless. I am already on depression tablets off the doctor because of the trauma of his arrest and trial. Is there anywhere online that I can seek some support off others in a similar situation?


Comment: Yes there is! Prison Chat UK is an online community support forum that enables you to chat online to other family members who are experiencing a difficult time. Please click on the above highlighted link. The forum is free to join and is secure.

Killer cops and a corrupt judge

Killer cops and a corrupt judge

David Oluwale was born on 8 September 1930, in Lagos, Nigeria. He belonged to the Yoruba tribe.

The colonial rule was in decline when David was educated in a Christian grammar school. Leaving school he struggled as an apprentice tailor. There was high unemployment, food shortages, and prices soared. On 16 August 1949, David stowed away on board the Temple Star from Nigeria, for the 2 week journey to Hull. He hid amongst boxes of groundnuts in the hold of the ship, until the captain ordered smoke to be pumped into the hold to smoke out any hiding stowaways. Also on board was the Nigerian national football team on its first ever overseas tour.

CLICK HERE and visit Jailhouse Lawyers Blog for the rest of the story!

Prisoner custody officer sentenced for smuggling drugs in to prison

A female prisoner custody officer who smuggled drugs into HMP Brixton has been jailed for over two years.

Samantha Brown, 22, of Hackney was convicted of misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to supply drugs.

The recipient of her criminal activity, prisoner Leon Jackson, 35 yrs, received a five month jail sentence after being convicted of transmitting sounds and/or images from within the prison. The pair were sentenced on Friday 15 July at Inner London Crown Court.

The pair were apprehended following a pro-active and intelligence led investigation by officers from the London Prison Anti-Corruption Team (LPACT) which revealed that Brown was being paid to traffic cannabis into the prison for Jackson.

A search of Jackson’s cell led to the discovery of a mobile phone he had used to communicate with Brown on a daily basis. Analysis of call records indicated hundreds of calls were made between the two.

Brown hid the drugs in her bra and passed them to Jackson and other inmates when they attended the crown court.

Acting/Detective Inspector Neil Smithson, LPACT, said: “Police and the Prison Service have identified that the courts are another potential route for drugs to enter prisons. We have worked closely with Serco – who run the court cells – on this case, which should send a message out to court staff that any wrongdoing will lead to arrest and conviction.”

Hackney Hive

The Sandal Conundrum - By Prisoner Ben Gunn

Not since Jesus have sandals caused such sheer bafflement and consternation.

Local notices decree that we must not wear flip-flops whilst collecting our food, or whilst taking exercise in the grassy compound. However, wearing trainers is all okay.

But where do my sandals fit into this scheme? As sandals are not specifically mentioned, my wearing them prompts staff to engage that rarely seen attribute - initiative. Staff are not known for being independent thinkers, and in the absence of clear instructions from management there is always the danger of headless chicken syndrome.

The status of my sandals remains uncertain, and at some point I wouldn't be surprised if they became an item on a committee agenda!

CLICK HERE to visit Ben's Prison Blog

Books Really Do Help Prisoners Children

Hi PFV. The publications over at Action For Prisoners Families can really help a child. I have read some of them to my son because like your other member posted, my son was scared to death of prison visits. Some children of prisoners have horrible thoughts put in to their heads by other school children about prison, especially if they know that their mum or dad is in prison. My son is only in year 1 and some of the children in his class made fun of his dad being prison by telling him that his dad was in a dungeon. Naturally after that, he didn't want to go and see his dad. I try my best to maintain the contact between my son and his dad because I feel it's important. Please do take a look at the publications available by APF. ( above link )

Lots of love from Cheryl

Chest Hair Bra Shape!

( Click on pic to enlarge )

Chest hair in the shape of a bra? Why? Well, as the old saying goes: There's nothing stranger than folk!

Probation Does Matter - by Mary PFV volunteer

Credit where credit is due.

Jim Brown's post '5 minute interview' makes for heartening reading. He and his blog Probation Matters are a great example of what probation and probationers should be. As he mentioned that there is a lot of negative stories on Prisoners Families Voices I thought it was only right to comment on the positives.

I don't always agree with Jim but have always had respect for his opinions. The failings of the probation service are numerous and varied, I hope people like Jim never stop fighting for a better way forward.

Please click on the highlighted links above to read the full article.

We're All In This Together - By Jim Brown - Probation Officer

With all the excitement focussed on the Murdoch empire, I've neglected to mention theCriminal Justice in Meltdown lobby of Parliament on 6th July. This was in effect the launch of a joint campaign by NAPO, PCS, POA and Police Federation against cuts and further privatisation within the Justice sector. The full joint briefing document can be downloaded from a link to be found here.

Things are speeding up somewhat because Ken Clarke has announced two further prison closures, HMP Latchmere House in West London and HMP Brockhill in Redditch. Latchmere is a 'Cat D' establishment with an interesting history. It was initially used in the First World War as a hospital for soldiers suffering from 'shell shock' and in the Second World War by MI5 for the interrogation of enemy agents when known as Camp 020. Brockhill is a relatively modern but run down 'Cat C' establishment.

CLICK HERE for more on the story. Probation Matters Blog

Visit Cancelled For Prison Widow

We would all like to wish, Prison Widow, a speedy recovery after she fell off a fence. A few of us went prison visiting together and decided to take a few snap shots near the prison. Sadly, Prison Widow fell on her head and suffered multiple nettle stings! Get well soon PW!

Kelly Bolton - PFV volunteer

My Young Daughter Refuses To See Her Dad In Prison

Two months ago, I took my daughter to see her dad in prison. My parents disagree with my choice, but when all said and done, he is her dad and she misses him. Whilst there, the drugs dog was out and my daughter just screamed and screamed. The problem I now have is that she doesn't want to see her dad again and I really don't know what to tell him when he rings. For the last few visits, I have been on my own and made excuses for my daughter. I won't force her to go, but then their relationship will fade. Not sure what to do or where to seek advice? Can anyone offer any?

By A Concerned Mum

Comment: Action For Prisoners Families have a collection of publications suitable for young children and parents who are affected by imprisonment. CLICK HERE and visit their website.

Two prisoners escape from jail van in Manchester

Two prisoners have escaped from a jail van after it was ambushed by armed men on the outskirts of Manchester city centre.

A number of men attacked the van in Trinity Way at about 0830 BST, Greater Manchester Police said.

They fled in a Saab, which was later found abandoned in Barrow Street in the Islington area of Salford.

A security guard has been taken to hospital but his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

Det Sgt Paul Copplestone urged anyone with information to contact Greater Manchester Police.

He said: "We are sure that this incident was witnessed by many people at a very busy time of the morning. The Saab was driven off towards the M602 motorway.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

How To Make Your Own Prison Wine

There are plenty of different pruno recipes out there, but I decided to use the most popular one, which is attributed to a man named Jarvis Masters, who is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison. Making prison wine is actually surprisingly easy, and all you really need is a one gallon plastic bag, ten oranges, eight ounces of fruit cocktail, some sugar cubes, six teaspoons of ketchup and a towel.

Prisoners Families Can Be Targeted

Hi everyone. My long term partner was sent to prison just over 6 months ago. Since then, I have had social services at my door, malicious phone calls and even the benefits fraud department round at my house, saying that I was committing benefit fraud? I'm not sure how that works when my partner has been in prison for 6 months do you? My partner was sent to prison after getting in to a fight outside a bar. It was a bad fight and the victim was badly hurt. I pray he recovers from it and feel for his family. However, the victims family has been causing me some problems by sending me nasty letters and reporting me to whoever they can report me to. I have even had the RSPCA at my door saying they have had a report that I am mistreating my dog! I have a lovely home and both me and my partner have worked hard to get it like that, but I have been looking for private rented accommodation just to get the hell out of the area! I don't blame the victims family for being bitter, I would feel the same, but the point is, I didn't do anything wrong, yet they are targeting me because obviously they cannot get to my husband. This now is causing a strain on mine and my partners relationship because if he hadn't had committed this crime, I would not be getting the hassle at my door. Thanks for listening.

Anonymous Partner of Prisoner

Through The Keyhole - Prison Widow's House

I was invited over to, Prison Widow's house last week for a few beers and a chill out. It's not a bad pad actually. But what concerned me and my wife was the shape of her windows? She said the window's were put in to remind her of her husband in prison?

Stuart Darlington

My Mum Married Her Prison Pen Pal.....

And it changed us forever.

For me, answering the question "Are your parents remarried?" is a delicate matter. My dad is easy: Nope, he's a born-again bachelor since he and my mom divorced after 22 years together. My mother is not currently married, I will say carefully, but she was for several years. I might even add that she moved from California, where I grew up, to New Mexico, in order to be with her second husband. The conversation usually stops there. But sometimes I'll plunge ahead. In 1996, my mother met and later married a man incarcerated in a New Mexico state prison, an inmate who began as her pen pal and ended up as her lover.

At first, I was supportive. Which seems hard to believe. My mother's affair began very soon after my parents split and I moved away to college, and it carried a crazy whiff of romantic adventure. The universe seemed to conspire to bring them together. Joe reached her by randomly tapping a string of numbers together into an out-of-state collect phone call. She accepted the call, thinking it was one of my old boyfriends who shared the same name. He was looking for someone to write to him, since his family didn't often visit—would anybody in the household be interested? (He later admitted that he'd heard from other inmates that the collect-call routine was a good way to find women.) She volunteered for the job, and I thought her daring and fabulously unorthodox.

CLICK HERE and read more on the story!

Picture Of The Day - From Sammy Jo

Thanks Sammy Jo for sending this pic in to us! LOL!

Too Many Tears On Prison Visits - By Mum Of Prisoner

I am writing this to you just to get things off my chest. Please also can you keep my name anonymous. My son is in prison and I can't deal with visiting him. Every time I have visited him, I have cried my eyes out in the visits room and on one occasion, one of the lads on the wing saw me and my son was bullied because of it. They were making fun of my son, because I couldn't hold back my tears. Now my son is saying that he doesn't want me to visit him because of this.
I never thought as a mother that I would have to go through this. I have brought my children up to the best of my ability and yet my son lands up in prison.

Prisoners Families Voices is a platform for family voices. Unfortunately we are not a support forum, but we can advise the above link for families of prisoners in the UK.


Now that really must have hurt!!!!!!

The Five Minute Interview - By Jim Brown - Probation Officer

I've heard a lot recently about the '5 minute interview', otherwise known as the 'tick box interview' over on the Prisoners Families Voices website. I know exactly what they mean because I've seen it myself. A car pulls up outside the probation office, a guy gets out and he heads for reception and the friend keeps the engine running while he 'reports.' There is clearly no need to bother stopping the engine because just as quickly the guy reappears and is driven off.

A pointless exercise many would say and I have to agree. There's no wonder significant numbers of clients think it's a waste of time and don't turn up, thus triggering either breach or recall action. So, what's been going on, especially as it's long been known that it's the relationship between probation officer and client that is fundamental in effecting change in behaviour? Well by a handy coincidence, the explanation is contained in the latest edition of the newsletter for sentencers produced by the London Probation Trust and I'm grateful to a reader for passing it on to me. It's basically about one of the latest buz issues within the Service generally at the present time, and called 'engagement.'

CLICK HERE and read more over at Probation Matters Blog

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Prison Widow's Pen Pal Has His Night Planned Out!

Oh God! Well, my mate and faithful prison pen-pal, Cyril-John, was released from jail the other day. I know he'd been writing to a few women whilst he was doing his prison stretch, so I thought, well at least he'll be released in to the arms of one of them. Only when I went to meet him, it seemed like he had his night planned out.... but I don't reckon he was carrying one of his prison pen-pals across the road! When he rang me on my mobile phone and asked me to bring a puncture kit along when meeting him at the prison gates, I thought he was going to ride off in the sunset to freedom on his bike.... Hmm, maybe not eh?

Prison Widow

It's Not Probation's Job To Support Families - By Emm

Probation Are A Tick-Box Service

RE: The above highlighted link

Probation's role is to manage the offender, not his/her family members, but I do know where the person who posted is coming from. The Government have recently said that offenders families can help to reduce re-offending - but the Government aren't helping the families to help the offenders!
Probation have their work cut out and yes I do understand and have had experience first hand at attending probation with my partner only to be sat with yet another different trainee probation officer and not his original probation officer who came to see me on a home visit before my partner was released. Is it any wonder that ex offenders can't be bothered turning up for that 5 minute appointment? Wouldn't it save time and money to just ring them at home? Because it's the same old, same old jargon - " Is everything OK?" And at that, they send another appointment through the post for the next same old, same old, question! My partner is doing well. He's been lucky enough to find employment and has stayed on the right track. His probation appointments are a ball ache he says, and it's just a case of a tick-box, and he's been in to see them. I'm quite an head strong person, but there are families who do need some support living with an ex offender. In some cases, it's difficult for a family member to keep tabs on their partner 24/7, making sure they are sticking to the rules. My partner was in prison in 1989 - 1992 and I've just asked him his opinion on probation. He says that the 'old skool' lot were much better and they spent time with the offender. His opinion on them now I cannot repeat, but from my opinion as a family member supporting an ex offender, they may as well scrap their appointments and phone their clients to save bus fares and travel fares! Five minutes of their time really is a waste of time.

Probation Are Just A Tick Box Service

Families should be made aware of the consequences of prison recall.

RE: The above highlighted link.

Firstly, 5 minute probation appointments are useless. I've been there and worn the t-shirt with all that when my partner was on prison licence. Half of the time, he never saw his probation officer officer. On most occasions, it would be a trainee or someone else. Great isn't it? Especially when his probation officer did a house visit and asked me some personal questions about our relationship! You'd have thought my partner would have seen his probation officer most of the time, not some young stuff in training! I agree with, Sam, ( above link ) that probation need to inform families about prison licence and what it really does entail. Some families of offenders cannot go and pick their loved ones up from prison. There are many reasons why. One being the prison is too far away, or they do not have transport to pick them up. For lots of prisoners being released, they rely on public transport to get home and more often than not, go straight to probation before they go home to get matters done and dusted before settling in with their families. That being the case, many families do not look at the prison licence and its conditions.
Offenders children need to know about the prison licence too. Like many on your blog have said, how devastating is it for a child to be over joyed their mum or dad is home, only to be taken away again by the Police if that prison licence is breached? It's not fair to put any child through that and yes, it would be heartbreaking and confusing for them indeed! Many organisations agree that offenders families can reduce re-offending? Well if that is the case, and they honestly think that, then the likes of probation should indeed be involved. Not only to support the offender, but to support his/her family who spends the majority of time with the offender. For me, and I am sorry to say this, but probation is a tick box service and a clocking in office for naughty boys and girls. Maybe some probation offices work differently? But I am from the North-West and it's the pits here. I am a firm believer in, every one is responsible for their own actions. It's a saying probation use often. It's also a saying that probation stick by, because yes, everyone is responsible for their own actions, so bin the probation service then in that case! Everyone is responsible for their own actions - but some need a little helping hand. If the probation service can't offer that, then all the MOJ need to do is, employ office workers who can tick boxes. I've read posts on your website by people who say that there are some good probation officers around. I won't argue with that, but 'some' is no good when others recall offenders for diabolical reasons. And there are plenty on the prison wings who will tell you. There are children of offenders in households that are affected by their mum's and dad's imprisonment.
There are also children in households who need educating about their mum's and dad's release from prison too. This is where the probation service should come in because otherwise, the recall process and the rest of it, can mess with a child's head especially if the Police turn up out of the blue and take their parent away again. The MOJ need to get a grip and protect these innocent kids!

Interviews For A Female Prison Officer - By Prison Widow

I always thought that, The Prison Service, was made up of a collection of tits! Now I have my proof! Ha ha!!

Informing Families Of The Consequences Of Prison Recall

Probation - By Mary. PFV Volunteer

RE: highlighted link.

Hi Mary, I would like to say that I agree with what you said about probation and how they should get to know their clients. Probation should write to prisoners families to explain what a prison licence is all about. Some families haven't got a clue about the consequences of breaching a prison licence. Offenders who are released to a home address with family and children should be made aware of licence conditions. No if's or but's. When the MOJ receive a fax from probation, the police come hammering on your door. In some cases, front and back door. How scared must the children be? If the prisoner breaches his/her licence, then that's their problem. But innocent children and family members need not be subjected to it. Families play the biggest part in the form of resettlement, NOT the probation officer. It is family members of prisoners that visit week in and week out. I've had my own gripe with probation in the past, and sorry, I am not a lover of them at all simply because some probation officers recall offenders for the most inane reasons. But then I think, well The Parole Board need to keep their jobs don't they? More communication is needed. If probation agree that the offender can reside back at home, then they should inform the family members about the consequences of prison licence!!!!

Love and best wishes

Sam x

Stand By Your Man - By Prisoner Ben Gunn

We have an excellent newpaper in prison called Inside Time. There is a link to it on this blog.

The July issue carries a front page story about Women in Prison, not a topic widely discussed in the media. Consider this:

11,000 women are received into custody each year, and two thirds of them are sentenced to custody for a period of 6 months or less.

Over 17,000 children are separated by from their mothers by imprisonment each year and only 9% of them are looked after by their fathers. This poses the question of why men find it so difficult to look after their offspring when their partner is incarcerated.

In this prison the visits room is full of women visiting their partners and bringing the kids in to visit their dad. It is a sad fact that many women in prison are deserted by their partners, unless they also are women!

Why is it that men find it so hard to stay the course? And when it costs around £56,415 a year to keep a woman in prison, why lock her up at all, given the fact that the cost to her family (children taken into care etc.) is even higher?

Friday, 15 July 2011 Mary PFV volunteer

Thanks to Kate for her post "some probation officers couldn't manage running a tap" , she summed up most probation officers total lack of compassion or understanding when it comes to hard pressed family members struggle to be all things the service is not. It would have cost next to nothing to have let her sister know what was coming.

A lot of the trouble is that probation officers just don't get to know their 'clients', how can you truly know someone in 10-15 minutes a month?. The blame for this lies within the system and the workload they expect officers to deal with. Unless the whole system is radically overhauled and with the current cuts culture in mind, this is only going to get worse.

Some Probation Officers Couldn't Manage Running A Tap - By Kate

AWOL on prison licence - by Jim Brown

RE: Above link

The problem I have with probation is this: Lack of communication! My sister did her partners probation officer job standing on her head. That's because she lived with an ex offender 24/7. And that's because she had been his partner for 8 years. Unless you get a good offender manager, I don't rate probation at all. My sisters partner breached his licence. But her honesty with his probation officer didn't pay off. She was upfront, but the probation officer wasn't, so he decided to send the police round to her house in force to arrest him and return him to prison. Three hysterical kids were in the house at the time. My sister rang probation to inform her partners officer that he had been using drugs and had stayed out overnight. Now then, instead of his probation officer explaining to her what would happen next, and to take the children to a neighbours so that they wouldn't see their dad being arrested etc, those kids had to endure the stress and trauma of their dads arrest. Probation cannot be bothered to communicate with families of offenders. Families of offenders ARE offender managers, not probation! Ex offenders are released back in to their family homes and many families place rules in order whilst living under their roof. My sister did. But by trying to help her partner and communicate with his probation officer, the outcome was - her children are still having nightmares over the police taking their dad and arresting and handcuffing him in front of them! Jim, you are probably a decent probation officer, but trust me, some probation offices within the UK couldn't manage to run a tap, never mind manage an offender!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

AWOL On Prison Licence - By Jim Brown ( Probation Officer )

I Blame Probation For Family Break-Up

RE: The Above Highlighted Link

I see probation has had a mention recently and I thought it might be helpful if I responded. The following is in response to 'I Blame Probation For My My Family Break-up'
"I'd like to respond by saying that it's always difficult to talk about any case if you don't know all the details. In particular we don't know what the offence/s were that led to a prison term. We don't know if there was any offending history or if there were any concerns relating to risks either to the public, particular people or the individual them self. That being said, any person on licence that goes AWOL is a serious matter whatever the reasons might be. In this case there were clearly worries as the author admits. Alcohol might have been a factor involved in the commission of the offences and there might well have been concerns for the individuals safety. In such a circumstance it would have been my policy to say that I had no alternative but to instigate immediate recall. That is never a decision taken lightly, but in this case we are not talking about missing an appointment. The person had disappeared, which puts them in breach of their licence and therefore in order to effect their arrest, recall must be applied for. I have previously said that it would be my practice to inform the individual or partner, unless there was reason to feel this would put anyone at risk. In terms of how the arrest was made, all I can say is that the police normally only allocate manpower on the basis of whether they feel a person is likely to resist arrest. Following recall, the reasons why the person went missing could be addressed by the Probation Officer and hopefully form the basis of a positive recommendation to the Parole Board."

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

See The Sun - By Prisoner Ben Gunn

Comparing prisons is always an individual process, best avoided. But my initial impression is that Erlestoke is far larger than Shepton and strictly regulated.

It is so good to have a window large enough to allow sunlight through, and there are acres of grass and trees. So different from the dark, tarmac claustrophobia of Shepton.

There are vast swathes of bang-up; along with the controlled movement this makes me wonder if the management are afraid of disorder. They forget that central to good order is treating us decently, and that increasing control measures can itself provoke disorder.

CLICK HERE and visit Ben's Prison Blog!

I Blame Probation For My Family Break-Up

Hi all. I would like to discuss the issue concerning prisoners children and prison recall please.
There have been a few posts on your blog from families regarding the probation service. I hate to say this, but my partners probation officer was neither use nor ornament. Our daughter is 15 and was devastated when her dad went to prison. Our daughter was my main priority. When her dad came out of prison, she thought that was it and he was free. She met her dads probation officer on an home visit when he came to our house and he was unfriendly and obnoxious. Thank God he refused the offer of a cup of tea! Sadly, a few months after her dad was released, his mother passed away. He disappeared for 4 days and went on the beer. I rang his probation officer to let him know that he hadn't been home and told him why. But I was worried and I needed to talk to someone in authority. He did come home and when he did, I informed his probation officer to let him know that he had returned home. Woe and behold, the next day, the police hammered at my door and cuffed him. His probation officer had recalled him back to prison. Our daughter was absolutely hysterical! Having just lost her grandma and her dad lost his mum, this was the final blow. Probation officers need to work with prisoners families, yet I feel that they often work against them. Many posts on your blog focus on families dealing with imprisonment, yet release from prison is equally important. Because of the stress, we split up. Yes, I blame probation for ruining our family because I am bitter. I understand that probation have rules. But I question, are probation officers human sometimes? My partner had been released from prison, released back in to our home which had changed a lot whilst he was away. He had to build his relationship up back up with his daughter, and to add to his stress, his mum passed away. Probation kindly helped the situation by locking him up! I know there are good probation officers. But my experience of them is, I never want to be involved with another one ever again!

As If We Didn't Know! - By Paul

A new study has found that prisons' staff across Britain are among the most corrupt British servicemen, an issue which makes prisons 'a hotbed of corruption'.

The study, carried out by Transparency International UK, has identified up to 1,000 officers as corrupt, with staff smuggling mobiles, SIM cards and drugs into jails on a huge scale.

The study also found the drug trade alone within prisons is worth £100 million per year.

The charity behind the report says anti-corruption budgets have been cut - harming the Prison Service Corruption Prevention Unit.

“The link between organised crime and corruption is a recurring theme in prison”, said Chandrashekhar Krishnan, director of Transparency International UK.

Meanwhile, a recent report entitled “Corruption in the UK”, has revealed that there is a greater level of corruption in Britain than is widely accepted.

The true extent of corruption in the UK is much more widespread and deep-rooted than the government admits, according to the report.

Transparency International also commissioned an opinion poll, based on which more than half of the British people believe that corruption is getting worse.

The poll highlighted four areas of particular concern, including prisons, parliament, political parties and sport.

The anti-corruption campaign group has cautioned the coalition government that spending cuts may create an environment that greatly increases the risk of graft.

T-Rex Made Purely From Balloons!

T-Rex made purely from balloons! Brilliantly clever I'd say!

Balloon Sculpture by Mark Verge

Fred West role causes nightmares for actor

Actor Dominic West has said playing Gloucestershire serial killer Fred West for TV has given him nightmares.

The drama is set to be broadcast on ITV and tells the story of the murderer through the eyes of a social worker who was sent to interview West in prison.

"I have this recurring dream where I'm perched on a wall and Fred West is trying to grab me and pull me down," said Dominic West.

The drama has been criticised for causing pain to the victims' families.

CLICK HERE for more on the story - source BBC NEWS

Some Charities Need A Reality Check - By Julie Anne

Hi, OK, this is my problem. I have often read online that prisoners families are encouraged to maintain ties. That's all well and good for some of the charities to come out with that, but before they start spouting that off, they need a reality check. What happens when there is a family who's loved one is in a prison 5 - 6 hours away from home? I've met some families on visits and spoke to them about the distances they travel. Some families can only see their loved ones every two months or so. I'm in a situation where my daughter, 17 years old, started to have panic attacks after her Dad was arrested. She had one in the visiting room a few months ago and is too scared to visit now. There are children of prisoners who have some alarming issues and yet the Government do nothing. The Prison Service 'encourage' families to stay in touch via letter? OK, now unless they are a member of MENSA, how does a 3 year old sit down and write about his/her day in a letter to mum or dad in prison? So my message is, go ahead and encourage families to maintain ties, some are able to do it, but the charities and organisations need to spread their wings and sit up. NOT all families can achieve this!


I am writing in response to the above post by Jim over at Probation Matters .

While I often agree with Jim some of his comments here are an indication of the difference between realities. His and prisoners families !!. His comment that Prisonersfamiliesvoices, "often contains worrying and uncomplimentary examples of probation involvement" is true, it does, why is that?.

In an ideal world we would all like to believe that probation officers are logical, reasonable, analytical human beings, worthy of trust, able to show some compassion, in a lot of experiences this is not the case. He comments "I can honestly say probation officers are not stupid", well that must mean they do stupid things intentionally, or is it those damn forms again? When he says "all probation officers only want to hear the truth, or honestly held opinions" I am sure there are some that do, then there are others who wouldn't know truth or reality if it shook their hand. As for trust being earned, it is a two way street, how do you continue to trust someone when they send you to a drug/alcohol infested hostel in order to rehabilitate? exclude your family from any of the decision making process, then expect to reduce re offending?

Trust Me! I'm A Probation Officer

I've always felt that a bit of self-analysis is no bad thing. Indeed I would say it's an absolutely vital trait for any aspiring probation officer and it's certainly something we would wish to encourage many of our clients to embrace. Trying to understand why we do things is almost certainly a healthy pre-requisite for trying to understand why other people do things. Uncomfortable though it may sometimes be, in order to aid this process it can often be helpful to hear what others feel about us. In this context I have recently drawn readers attention to the Prisoners Families Views website which often contains worrying and uncomplimentary examples of probation involvement.

On the Prisoner Ben website there has been some wide-ranging and healthy discussion about various issues, including the role, responsibilities and effectiveness of probation. I have taken the liberty of quoting some comments and views from a recent post entitled 'World's Apart' in order to give a flavour of the discourse.

CLICK HERE to read views and visit Probation Matters

Monday, 11 July 2011

Prison Widow's Husband Caught With Mobile In Prison!

Well, devastated isn't the word! I got a call three days ago saying my hubby is down on the segregation wing because he's been caught with a mobile in his cell! Bloody great eh! The thing is, one of the prison officers sent me a picture of his cell - and the mobile - which was left attached to his bed! I was a bit confused to be honest, because I hadn't received any phone calls from him on a mobile phone so I was wondering what the hell was going on! When he said he was caught with a mobile, I was fuming. I was even more furious when I saw what the bloody mobile actually was! I mean.. come on guys.. who the hell smuggled that in for him? Jesus!!!!!!

CLICK HERE to read Prison Widow's latest column in Inside Time!

Sureshot Books - Books For Inmates

SureShot Books is part of the SureShot 2k family of companies that was founded in 1990 to help the families of prison inmates to make it possible for their loved ones to improve their lives through education enabled by providing them the ability to send books to inmates to help them learn useful life skills, which also has an influence how efficiently an inmate will respond upon release.

CLICK HERE and visit their website!

My Partners Imprisonment Has Left Me In Debt - By Anonymous

Hi. I am writing in to you because I am wondering if other family members of prisoners feel the same as me. My partner has recently been sentenced to prison. I love him, but right now I hate him. He's lost his job, because obviously he's in prison, and I am left with bills I cannot afford to pay. I'm stressed to the max because now as a single parent, I have to claim benefits and because my partner is locked up, I have had to inform Tax Credits and others. He wants me to visit him, but I am so bitter and angry he has left me and the children in this situation. He committed a crime because we were in debt, but we are in even more debt now because of his selfish actions. I had no idea what he had done until the Police arrested him at 5.00am at home. I was petrified and without any explanation, he was handcuffed and taken away. I was ringing the police station who wouldn't tell me anything, and I was in such a mess. I didn't want to phone my parents or his because of the embarrassment. To make matters worse, my partner is in HMP Manchester ( Strangeways ) and I watched the documentary and hated it. I'm just at a loss right now. Thanks for listening.

CLICK HERE and visit Partners Of Prisoners ( POPS)

Citizens Advice Bureau - Help with debt matters.

( The person who sent us this post has been emailed other organisations that may help )

Gibberish - By Prisoner Ben

Just to illustrate that Shepton isn't alone in churning out notices which may well be collections of random words, my food ordering form here has the following printed on the top:

"Christmas day menu has changed and is served as breakfast and Christmas day lunch not lunch and dinner as stated".

And in July to boot!

CLICK HERE and visit Ben's Prison Blog

Hairy Biker?

Maintaining Family Contact? What A Load Of Rubbish!

I was chatting to someone who said that it is possible to maintain a relationship when a loved one is in prison. I don't doubt that some people can, and do make the best out of a grim situation. But what happens when a loved one is shipped out miles away from home? My daughter can only see her Dad once every 6 weeks, sometimes 8 weeks. Anything is possible, right? Sorry, but wrong!
I am only entitled to a small amount of money towards the cost of a prison visit. Finances only allow me to visit every other 6-8 weeks. My daughter is 8 years old and not the best writer. Her relationship revolves around prison telephone calls and we all know how much they cost! So unless I have a lucky win on the lottery, then my daughter is subjected to a visit every 6-8 weeks. Those who say that maintaining a relationship with a loved one in prison is possible, obviously aren't in my situation!

Profession By Height Of Pants!

Lawyers warned over prison mobiles

Solicitors have been alerted to the risk of "inadvertently" committing a criminal offence by calling clients in prison who are using illegal mobile phones.

The Law Society issued a note to its members warning they could be taking part in criminal activity by ringing the prohibited phones.

According to the guidance, some lawyers may call inmates "without realising the call is being made to an illicitly possessed telephone".

The note reads: "There is a danger that by making a call to a prisoner's unlawfully possessed mobile telephone you may be, either deliberately or inadvertently, committing a criminal offence."

The Society said the illicit possession and use of mobile telephones in prisons is becoming an increasing issue and warned solicitors not to call inmates on mobile phone numbers and to terminate any incoming calls from prisoners using mobiles.

CLICK HERE and read more on this story. Source Jailhouse Lawyer's Blog.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Why oh Why?? - by Mary PFV volunteer

The death of yet another teenager in A Young Offenders Institution (HMP Chelmsford) makes for bleak reading. When are the issues surrounding these deaths going to be addressed?

Please go to Children and Young People Now to get the full story.

My heartfelt sympathy to this poor boy's family.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Shaving On The Prison Wing - By Prison Widow

Well guys and girls, I did something extremely naughty the other day on a prison visit. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed of it either. I went to visit a pen pal of mine in HM Prison Bristol. And because I can't stand the Governor there, Mr Noonan, I thought, " stuff it!" and decided to smuggle in a, Kinder Egg Surprise! I'm not going in to 'how' I did it, but all you need to know is that the chocolate didn't melt! Anyway, as you all know, a Kinder Surprise Egg has a little toy in it that you have to build yourself. My pen pal is a very intelligent guy, so he built the mini toy up and it was a dude with a lawnmower. To my surprise, he made this little toy in to a money making scheme on the wing. He put a tiny blade in to the lawnmower- that he nicked from healthcare - and now he hires out his lawnmower man for shaves for all the lads on the wing! All the cons need to do is lie back and watch TV and let the, lawnmower man, do his stuff going backwards and forwards mowing off the stubble! My pen pal asked me to think of a more trendy name for his new business... I've yet to come up with something, so if you reckon you can help me out, give us a shout and email me will you! Email addy is on the left hand side of the blog.