Dear Prison Widow UK.
Many of your readers, should you publish my email, will more than likely cringe at my ramblings, but what I am about to say, needs to be said.
I have been to prison 4 times and all of my sentences were 3 and a half years and under. I 'rehabilitated' myself and found factory work via a local employment agency. The wages were crap and I had little money left once I paid my rent, put my gas and electric on, paid my council tax, water rates and TV licence. So, is this what the UK is preparing ex offenders for? A skint straight life with very little prospects? I watch the news, read the papers and scour community forums listening to families who are financially up against it and terrifed of the bailiffs knocking at their doors.
I live next door to a young single Mum who somehow manages to work and bring her two children up single-handedly. We help each other out scraping tea-bags together and a couple of tea-spoons of sugar when times are hard - which might I point out is every damn week! By the way, this is not a 'woe is me' email, this is life!
Seriously and with all due respect, is this hum-drum straight life worth the stress? Granted I have stayed out of prison but prison is pretty much a walk in the park compared to working full time and scraping by. I was chatting to a few youths the other day who smoke weed at the back of the street I live on. One of the lads said he had recently come out of jail and when I asked him if prison was no more, he laughed and said he doubts it.
I come out with £265.00 per week. I get a bit of help with my rent and council tax. I have DWP benefit deductions that I pay back from a previous loan I had from them and I get a pat on the back for being an ex-con who has gone straight and WOW! Has found employment.
Do you want me to be truthful? The straight life is monotonous. The weekly wage I receive I used to make per day when I was living a rogue lifestyle. I got used to the 'good'money and I will be frank with you, I miss it. I often feel my straight life is step back, not forward because how can one honestly tell me that struggling to make ends meet is a step forward?
The Government tell me what I am doing is the right way to live but struggling to make ends meet depresses me. Please remember I am 'criminal minded' and I am not on my own. I don't use drugs but I can absolutely understand why some people turn to them. I feel like a pheasant under the spell of the powers that be living a straight life which is absolutely crap. I can't live on these pathetic wages, I am just merely existing. From Ex-Con.