Dear Editor. I'm an ex offender and I have been in prison (3) three times.
I am in recovery (drugs) and I have been clean for (2) years. It has been a struggle and still is but I am staying positive.
Your blog is excellent and I tune in every day to read what ex-offenders and families have to say.
Some of the opinions I have read on prisoner rehabilitation are pretty much spot on. To be fair though it is all down to the individual.
My family supported me and stood by me when I went to prison but it didn't stop me from going back there. I was a drug addict and no one can help a drug addict. It's all down to the addict to say enough is enough. I re-offended because I needed money to buy my drugs and I didn't care where I got the money from. I burgled, shop-lifted, you name it. Drugs were my main priority and any addict should they wish to admit it will tell you the same. Shamefully I treated my loved ones like dirt and it hurts. But when I was using drugs nothing and no one mattered. My family maintained ties with me but I was still scheming how to get my hands on some drugs when I got back on to the wing whilst I was sat there chatting with them. I hate to say this but maintaining ties with a prisoner who is addicted to drugs does not make a difference unless that person is dead set on rehabilitating themselves. I'm (2) years clean and I will never be out of the woods. My rehabilitation is life-long and I cannot say I will not relapse. I take a day at a time.
The Prison Service cannot rehabilitate people. They can only provide the props. How you use those props is entirely down to yourselves.
In the end, my family took serious steps and washed their hands of me until I took a grip of my life. They'd had it to the back teeth of travelling all over the UK wasting their hard earned money to visit their son in prison who couldn't care less and was still messing around with drugs. I wasn't progressing at all in prison and although like many other prisoners I convinced myself that when I got out I was going to get a job, settle down, stay off the drugs and live a straight happily ever after life (pipe dreams) it was all wishful thinking because I'd always arranged to score drugs within half hour of my release and I was high before I even sat in the probation office. I didn't care.
Family support is important but you need to be surrounded by family who take no nonsense.You need to be with family members who do not dabble in drugs. Friends who use drugs have to be kept at arms length and let me just make this clear; coming off heroin is the easy part; staying off it is a battle and with heroin you will never win the war - the battle is continuous and there are days when I would love to feel 'that' feeling.
I'm doing OK and for the first time in my life I do not want to go back to prison. If I was still using drugs, I wouldn't be bothered if I went back. In fact at some point I'd expect to back to prison. I am going to set up my own blog and write about my recovery.
What I have realized is this, the prison service cannot wave a magic wand and rehabilitate people. The process is down to you, not your family, probation officer or social worker, it's all down to one person and that is YOU.