Monday, 24 April 2017

The Invisible Ones: Children of Addicts - By Toshia Humphries

There is a constant and growing focus on treatment and recovery for the addiction disease. However, addiction, as most know, is a systemic disease. In other words, it affects more than the addicted individual. With addiction, the entire family is adversely impacted by the illness. Typically, for this reason, a family component exists in most addiction treatment and recovery programs. Still, the overall focus on family members is minimal compared to that of the addict. Moreover, children of addicts are often almost completely overlooked both in the addiction field and society as a whole. The latter reality is one that only adds to a recurring theme in the lives of these children. The vast majority of them have been emotionally neglected—overlooked by their families—and therefore had their needs ignored throughout the duration of their parent’s active addiction. As expected, the stereotypical egocentric actions of the chemically dependent parent—victimization, manipulation, dramatization, etc.—take center stage. Unfortunately, that attention-seeking behavior only grows more apparent to the child with time, even as the addicted parent seeks treatment.
Treatment Trap
Even upon entering treatment, the focus of family members and friends tends to remain on the addicted parent rather than their adversely affected children. This may be a natural response since, considering the medical facts, the only one diagnosed with a disease is the parent. However, the children are equally as sick, as everything they have learned and come to model stems from active addiction. Additionally, these children lack the developmental skills and resources to express or meet their need for help. To make matters worse, because children of addicts take on various maladaptive roles—scapegoat, mascot, lost child and hero—and therefore don't always overtly exhibit socially dysfunctional symptoms, they often fall through the cracks and their pain and suffering simply goes unnoticed. Some even see a celebration of their dysfunctional behaviors—like in the case of the hero or lost child. This isn’t only damaging to children on an emotional level, it also typically leads to future addiction as well as emotional and mental imbalances for them as adults.
Meant to Be Heard 
While recovering parents have opportunities to share their stories and experiences in the treatment process, children of recovering addicts rarely get a chance to tell their story. This can make them quite resentful and may even send a message that the only way for attention or approval is through self-destructive means (and the recovery processes that follow). As such, it is quite possible that this is one way children of addicts come to continue the cycle of the disease within their families. Regardless of the long-term effects, potential of and cause for behavior modeling, the children and future adult children of addicts desperately need treatment and recovery too. The numbers on active addiction are in the tens of millions. As such, imagine the number of children negatively affected. Think about the maladaptive, dysfunctional roles they’ve assumed in an effort to survive their childhood. Those roles may or may not involve substance abuse, but they will certainly include various methods of self-sabotage and self-destruction. And, though children of addicts may seemingly be invisible with regard to the current focus on our nation’s number one and deadliest disease, the tragic statistics they generally become is a large stain on society too dark to continue to ignore.

Life on the out is frightening

Hi to Prison Widow Blog! I have not long been released from prison and have moved in with my mum and her partner. Prison supposedly should have rehabilitated me but the truth is, I unpacked my bag, sat on my bed in mums spare room and thought, what now? Where do I go from here? I don't know where to go from here because I am accustomed to prison life. Life out here scares me but according to professionals, I get released, unpacked and find a job. It's that simple right? But it isn't because my shoes are a different size to those that are giving me advice. It isn't that simple and my brain, attitude, and overall thinking is all prison related. It always has been because prison is regimented and to fend for myself out here is petrifying me. Do others feel this way too? From an ex prisoner UK. 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

My son followed my footsteps to prison

Dear Prison Widow UK. I am an ex-prisoner and ex-offender. My 28 year old son is now in prison.
The very last thing I wanted for my son was to follow in my dark footsteps but it happened. Most of his childhood was spent visiting me in prison and it shouldn't have been that way. He grew up thinking it was the 'norm' and prison is far from being the 'norm.' When I served my time, there was no rehabilitation. The courts and the criminal justice system convinced themselves there was but it is far away from the truth. I never experienced normality so for me, being in prison and having my son visiting me became the norm for me too. Prisoners and their families become stuck in a cycle. Families feel obliged to visit and prisoners expect them too. I am only going off my personal experiences by the way. Maintaining contact with your family I agree is important. On the other hand, when does visiting your loved one in prison become monotonous and unfair? I make a point of saying this because I repeatedly offended and my family only got off the merry-go-round for a few months before I was back inside again. I am now on the other side of the fence doing exactly the same visiting my son and spending money I can ill afford. I now know and fully understand what my family went through when I made the choices I did and yet my family always without fail stood by me. Eventually I grew up and changed my lifestyle but my choices and going to prison courtesy of those choices left my loved ones with little choices also. They served prison sentences alongside me in many ways. They gave up their weekends to visit me when they could have been enjoying themselves at the seaside and doing things that normal families do. But they didn't, they put me first and yet I never returned the favour. I have myself a full time job and I now give up my weekends to visit my son in prison because I owe it him. The problem I have with prison reform is that no one appears to suggest what areas they wish to reform. Society is probably the worst I have seen it and on my street alone, four families either have a partner or son/daughter in prison. There doesn't seem to be as much stigma as their once was about a loved one serving time in prison, but prison should not be the 'norm' because it isn't. I hope I haven't rambled too much. Kindest regards, Mr Jackson. 

Family and prisoner interaction packs are brilliant!

My partner is in prison and we are always running out of things to write to each other. I was asked to sample an interaction pack by Prison Widow and it has been brilliant! They are age appropriate, fun and a fantastic way to interact with a loved one in prison! The ideas in it are superb and it has become like a hobby for me now and keeps both mine and my partners mind in prison more occupied. The interactive letter ideas are so much fun and although I have been with my partner for 12 years, I am still finding out more about him! The feedback from my partner has been excellent and he has really enjoyed the interaction! Prison Widow you are so clever and thank you. From a partner of a prisoner. 

Serving time in a Government drugs den

Hi to all and a great site by the way! I am an ex prisoner and drug user and completely agree that kids should not be around parents who misuse drugs. I have seen the affects and I have seen what damage it can do to families because I caused plenty of heartache to my own family. I am ashamed to say this but I was guilty of taking drugs before a visit, not all the time, but I had done. When they left I scored more drugs because the visits were painful. It's no excuse but that's what I did plus the boredom in cells is head wrecking. I can't explain it but it is. My son is 23 and I have just recently started to build back a dad and son relationship with him because I am clean and sober. His Mum gave me chances after chances and in the end she stopped visiting me and moved on with her life which I am glad she did. Relationships with addicts aren't healthy and I only dragged her down. I lost contact with my son and didn't see him for ten years because I was using drugs. At present he is firing a lot of questions at me and some are impossible to answer although I do my best. To explain to any child that drugs came before anything, even them, is heart wrenching but if you are a druggie, drugs come before anyone and anything on this planet. As an ex prisoner/offender, I don't think any prisoner has the privilege to see their families if they are testing positive in prison. That's just my opinion but something has to give because my last prison sentence was like serving a stretch in a Government drugs den. I will say no more. Best wishes to all your readers. From Clegg 

More EASY prisoner in-cell crafts

More EASY in-cell mind crafts!

The sorry jail mail isn't good enough

Dear Prison Widow UK. My ex partner is a drug addict and there is no way I will take her to visit him in prison regardless of his apologetic jail mail. 
He has been in and out of prison all her life (she is 14 now) and I'm not putting her or myself through anymore of his 'sorry crap'. Sorry doesn't cut it anymore and if you feel my story is bitter, you are absolutely right. I have no time or sympathy for junkies. I am not saying it is easy for them to kick their addiction in to touch but I have met people who have succeeded and it is doable. 
Last week I was on the bus and two guys got on it and were off their faces and could hardly walk. They made my stomach turn and young kids were asking their parents what was wrong with them. 
My daughter does not want to know her dad and I have wrote him in prison telling him exactly what the score is. I don't think prisoners should be allowed family visits or be around children when they are under the influence. I know it isn't the children's fault, but if a person has any sense and respect for their families, they should grow up, take a look at their prison surroundings and do something constructive for their families, not getting off their faces on spice and whatever else is flooding the prisons these days. We were lucky enough to have him in his sober days but once he relapsed he was kicked to the curb and he hasn't made any effort to stop. He can stop because he has done it before, but his life now consists of a junkie prostitute girlfriend and no my daughter is absolutely not being part of their dramatic drug fuelled lives. On the upside since I severed ties with him, I have become a better person and my daughter is happy. She is still hurting inside, I know that but there will be no reunions unless he sorts his situation out and I am sad to say that the chances of that is pretty slim. My love to everyone who is going through similar. Regards, Lisa x

Friday, 21 April 2017

What is the point of prison when my son is still a drug addict when he is released?


Hello. I am emailing in response to the person who wrote about prisoners families being at risk because of drug dealing in prisons.
Our son is in prison and both me and my husband are mentally drained with him. He is asking us for money every day and has started phoning other members of our family asking for money and practically pleading with them.
He is in prison because he committed crime for money to buy drugs. It is getting to the point now where we are ready to wash our hands of him. My husband and I haven't had any problems with outsiders demanding money but that's not to say we aren't at risk because if we stop sending our son money, I have no doubt that threats could very well happen. I agree with the person who wrote in and I also think too that the MOJ and other authoritative figures are not doing enough. This week I read in the press that the Government aim to tackle drones from delivering drugs and mobile phones in to prison, but even before drones came in to the equation, my son was begging me and my husband every day so either way, drugs still get in to prisons without the high tech means. I completely understand the person's frustration and the snap at the authorities because we feel the same. Our son is in prison and has been in before and will still be released addicted to drugs which therefore makes a complete mockery out of why he was sent to prison in the first place. What use is prison to him and to his victims and the general public if he is released from prison a drug addict? Thanks for listening. A Mum of a prisoner

Why do offenders keep putting their children through this?

Hello Prison Widow. I would appreciate it if you could sign me anonymous. 
I have 2 children age 5 and 7 and their Dad is in prison for the 3rd time. I don't want a life of prison visiting for my kids and I am fed up of the prison relationship thing. Every time he goes to prison he says he'll never go back inside but he always does and it distresses my kids. It's not fair on them and although I think the kids have the right to see their Dad, I am fed up of this never ending circle and tired of visiting. It's not fair him putting the kids through this and I don't want my kids growing up thinking this is OK because it's not OK. I feel like I am stuck in a catch 22. His parents refuse to visit him so I have no one else who could take my kids to visit him. My friends won't take them because they are angry he is putting his children through this and I agree with them. I know no one can make the decision for me but why oh why do offenders keep doing this to their kids and families? Yours Sincerely Anon. 

Families put at risk because of sickening prison drug deals

Hi and thanks for providing a brilliant platform where we can share our stories without prejudice. 
My brother has been in prison a lot. He is a drug addict and when actively using he is not a nice person. He has done some unforgivable things to fund his addiction and has shamed our family. He is in prison now and we have cut down our visiting to once a month because we found out he had been taking drugs in prison. I don't want to go in to great detail but my mother was approached by a stranger saying her son owed £60.00 and she paid it because she was scared her son would be beat up in prison. I was livid. My mum is on a pension and is vulnerable which is why I have moved back in with her for a while. If the Ministry of Justice are reading this; this is the sort of crap we families are dealing with because you have clearly lost control of your prisons! As for offender management; my family are at risk because there's no management taking place! Your job, NOMS, is to protect the public and we are members of the public irrespective of whether my brother, by his own choice, is in prison and is addicted to drugs. As a family we cannot help him and we should not be threatened to enable his addiction whilst he is in prison. Where do prisoners families go from here when prisoners are running the prisons? From a worried family member 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

10 Things Codependents Say to Themselves by Lisa OBrien

Being a codependent is exhausting. We spend a lot of energy trying to second guess someone’s next action or attitude (or lack thereof), and it’s a full time job. Trying to cover for an addict is difficult too. It feels humiliating and after a while, people stop believing our excuses and then shame can set in. If you are not sure whether you are codependent, take a look at the following statements and ask yourself honestly if any of them apply to your life.
1. “I should have been there for him/her. It’s my fault.” When an addict or abuser gets out of control with drinking, using, or violence, codependents take on the responsibility of the outcome. They think that if they had only just been there that they could have calmed the addict down, kept him/her from that last drink or driven their loved one home so he/she didn’t get pulled over. Codependents also often get blamed or manipulated into feeling the addict’s guilt.
2. “I have to look perfect every day to keep my relationship.” Do you take diet pills to stay thin? Everyone wants to look their best at any given time. Our bodies do change and in a healthy relationship that is perfectly acceptable. If you think that you may lose your mate if you don’t look perfect all the time, that’s a warning sign of codependency. Do not let yourself become addicted to appetite suppressants or anything else in order to be accepted.
3. “As long as he/she is happy, that’s all that matters. I’m fine.” If you are trying to convince yourself that doing something that you don’t really want to for your loved one is acceptable, it isn’t. Working two jobs because someone else keeps getting fired or spending money you don’t have, and tolerating drinking and using that you don’t participate in or enjoy is overwhelming and painful. You should not have to tolerate any of it.
4. “He/She promised not to do that anymore and means it this time.” Denial is a large indication of codependency. You don’t want to believe your significant other has broken another promise to stop cheating, drinking too much, gambling, or taking drugs, so you rationalize staying with them by telling yourself or others that you don’t see it happening. However, too many times you only end up making a false promise to yourself—or a short-lived one, at best.
5. “He/she needs to see how much they are hurting me.” This behavior often follows the above. After discovering that your partner is continuing in an addictive pattern, you scream, cry, overact and make a scene—all in the place of actually leaving him/her and the terrible situation. Most often, your feelings are either dismissed or you are placated long enough to forgive them and suffer when they do it again. This behavior in particular is dangerous for those in codependent relationships because your self-esteem can suffer immeasurably. Thoughts or attempts of suicide or other self-harm in order to get your point across or trying to manipulate someone into proving their love to you is a dangerous game that has no winners.
6. “I don’t really like to drink or use, but I’ll just do it to keep the peace.” Point blank: drinking or getting high to keep things happy and peaceful in a relationship is unhealthy behavior. Thinking you can take this kind of lifestyle long-term is also a mistake. No matter what we have been told, we do not have to compromise our emotions for someone else’s pleasure.
7. “The children don’t really understand what is happening.” Children need stability and someone to watch over them. From their perspective, what parents are doing is teaching them what being an adult looks like. Do not be fooled into believing that you’re hiding anything from kids of most any age. You are the most powerful influence in their lives and that responsibility must be taken seriously.
8. “He/she would not make it without me. I have to stay.” Have you ever attempted to leave a codependent relationship and your loved one tells you that they cannot go on without you and promise change? And because this is exactly what you have been waiting for, to feel so important to them, you actually believe it? This is likely a ploy to control you in order to keep things exactly the way they are.
9. “Nobody understands our relationship.” This is a very common pattern in codependency. We tell ourselves that our relationship is special and only the two of you understand each other. It may seem better if you don’t interact with outsiders very much because it upsets the balance between you. If we behave a certain way they will change soon or maybe that we don’t deserve anything better than what is in front of us.
10. “I obsess and worry about them.” Trying to think something into existence is not sane thinking. Obsessing over when the phone will ring or whether someone went to work today will not make it happen. We believe that if we spend all of our time focusing on someone else’s problem we can make it right. Honestly, we can only do this for ourselves. No one is focusing on us this much, are they? Admitting to yourself that you might be codependent is not a flaw. It is actually a very good first step in the right direction. Self-acknowledgement can be very enlightening and many people feel a huge weight lifted off of their shoulders knowing they are not crazy after all. Take care of yourself and find a happy future. 

His number 1 priority in prison is drugs

Dear Prisoners Families Voices
My daughters dad is in and out of prison and you would think that she would be enough for him to stop his craziness, but she isn't. His number 1 love is his drugs. Everyone and everything comes in second place to his D.O.C. (drug of choice) 
The older our daughter is getting, the more upset she is becoming because:
1. He is never at home
2. He chooses drugs before her
3. She is bored prison visiting
4. She is sometimes bullied at school
5. She feels isolated 
6. She is ashamed of her dad
7. She wants a dad who is responsible
8. He embarrasses her
9. She needs stability
10. She needs a dad

I have decided that there will be no more prison visiting and that is because the last time we visited he was under the influence of something; and spending money that I work hard for to pay for a 2 and a half hour journey to see him with his daughter; and he is still off his head on something; is a total lack of respect. All this family bonding stuff with loved ones in prison is all good and well but it works both ways and his visits have now been stopped, by me, because maintaining ties quite clearly isn't working. I'm not wasting my time and our daughters time when he isn't putting in the effort and it disgusts me he is able to access drugs in prison. Please don't print my name. Thanks. 

And how can prisons be reformed? From ex prisoner DS

Prisoners stashed 350 litres of homemade alcohol over Christmas as well as drugs worth £40,000 at a Lancashire jail, a report revealed.HMP Garth in Leyland was described as "very unsafe" in an inspection by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.Prison inspectors found "violence and drugs" dominated life at the jail with a rise in attacks on inmates and staff.However, they also found "progress" had been made in some areas such as mental health provision and education.

Right, so Michael Spurr, what progress has exactly been made in the education area and is the education delivered of some significance when people are released from prison? I was forced in to education inside which never took me any further upon release. It was my mindset I needed to address, not pen pushing learning about irrelevant subjects that would not benefit me on any application form. If I could speak and get it in to the thick skulls, no offence but come on, to the Government that changing mindsets is far more important than irrelevant topics studied in prison would they listen?
I am an ex drug dealer OK. I earned a lot of money right. Why would any youth of today work in a factory for minimum wages? Secondly could they hack working in a factory when quite frankly they have ruled the roost in jail? A typical example of mindset was the post about an ex offender being fired in his/her job because the discipline in prison was not good enough and as an ex con I can tell you all right now that prisons, for a lot of people are buildings where more crime is committed and money is still being earned on the out from the in. I'm not gloating and I am not proud of what I did to make money but at the time it was easy money and a prison sentence that didn't bother me because I was banged up and padded up with like-minded people who treated prison like a doss house too.
I'll give you an example how great education works. A kid on the wing had that many diplomas he could have achieved anything he wanted on release. The problem was he was a junkie inside and bullied in to buying drugs. He got released and was back within 3 months and after he'd done his rattle inside, he started using drugs in prison again. You can try and reform prisons any which way you like but until you get rid of the drugs, forget it, you are wasting your time. From DS 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Prison attitude reduced me to failure from M

In response to the post by Ady (below) I had 2 jobs through an agency when I was released from prison but was dismissed because I still had the prison attitude and basically couldn't cut it.
I totally get where Ady is coming from about the balance but in prison you are pretty much fending for yourself so the rehabilitation aspect isn't working especially re: the drugs culture inside and so on. However I am back in full time employment with less of an attitude and doing pretty good at the moment. If offenders are intending to turn their lives around then they have to adhere to rules because the outside and the workforce is full of them. Cheers, M. 

Toughen up and get a grip! From an ex-offender

Drugs, debt, intimidation towards staff, lack of discipline, bored senseless prisoners, frightened staff, gang culture, bent screws, pressured families of prisoners, need I go on? 
I think I read something Prison Widow said some months ago; which was temporarily putting all prisoners on closed visits to get to the bottom of smuggling in contraband. I agree. I absolutely agree. Families petrified their loved ones are gonna drop dead in jail because of drugs; I think would welcome this. Some nicks don't allow kisses and holding hands anyway so put the prisoners on closed visits whilst investigations are carried out. Sorry but there is too much pussy footing about in our system. I get the human rights thing and I'm not saying in any way shape or form there should be abuse in prison, but having served time in quite a few, some are a joke! I have been through the 23 hr bang up thing and it drove me insane. Lock yourself in a room for days on end and you will soon get where I am coming from. I went around the twist and I lashed out at officers and other prisoners because of pent up anger and frustration. OK, the GOV are recruiting more officers, great, solves f**k all because when officers are threatened and have been physically hurt, they go on sick leave so the prisons are short staffed again! 
Listen, prisoners aren't stupid, they know how the play the game. They are more than one step ahead of the system because the system has allowed them to be one step ahead. 
I would focus on splitting the gangs up but the problem the prisons have is mobile phone smuggling therefore splitting gangs up could prove tricky. There's been loads of documentaries about family and friends smuggling in drugs and contraband on visits so one option is closed visits whilst whoever investigates. If the crap is still getting in then the answer lies with the officers. Prisoners should earn visits and if they think anything about their kids and families then by rights they should comply. It's called rules and if you want to reform and rehabilitate then abide by the rules. 
How does the system prepare offenders for work on the outside if discipline does not work in prison? Listen, I can't go in to a job and throw my weight about otherwise I'll be sacked. The system isn't getting the balance right and I echo what another poster on the blog said, I would not let my Mrs work in a prison! They are not safe places! Respect to all from Ady

HMP Garth: Increase in violence at 'unsafe' jail, report says

A prison in Lancashire has been described as "very unsafe" following an increase in violent incidents and attacks on staff. "Violence and drugs" dominated life at HMP Garth in Leyland, according to a report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons. The Category B men's prison was inspected in January. The report said "progress" had been made in some areas, such as mental health provision and education. It also said staff shortages had improved following a previous inspection in August 2014. However, inspectors raised the following concerns: Levels of violence had increased "substantially", with many incidents linked to drugs, gangs and debt: Assaults on staff had increased and much of the violence was "serious" Living conditions were "very poor" in the segregation unit and staff were "overwhelmed" 85 prisoners (in addition to sex offenders) were held separately because of fears for their safety The prison had a drug problem, even though security was effective and tackling the supply of drugs was improving.
Some staff lacked confidence or were dismissive or disengaged, meaning some poor prisoner behaviour went unchallenged.
Positive findings included prisoners being "prepared to engage positively", with a "reasonable" time spent out of their cells and good learning and skills provision. High-risk prisoners were served well by some "very good offender management work", the report said, and public protection work was "good". Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: "This was an unusual inspection of contrasting and conflicting outcomes. "The progress in rehabilitative work was real and speaks to the potential this establishment has.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Bipolar in prison

Hi and could you keep my details private please. 
I am diagnosed as having bipolar and have served 3 prison sentences for theft and prostitution. I did these crimes to pay for a heroin and crack cocaine habit. It hurts me to write about this but I feel I need to. 
I found it hard in prison coping with bipolar. If you don't know a lot about bipolar the best way I can describe it is I am 2 people. One half of me can be manic and needs to be on the go all the time and the other half of me can stay in bed for a couple of weeks at a time. To be expected to address your issues in prison with this disorder can be horrendous and there can be little understanding amongst prison officers and fellow prisoners. On a high I am cooperative, enthusiastic, but impulsive. On a low I look like a completely different person and think about suicide at least 3 or 4 times a day but don't act on those impulses. I can't explain it but the feeling of doom isn't a nice feeling. In prison I am unreliable for obvious reasons due to my condition. Being bored and confined has been spoken a lot on your blog and I couldn't agree more. Having time to think when you have a mental health illness and banged up in a cell can end in tragedy and I have been on the brink. 
Feeling isolated in the outside world is lonely enough but feeling isolated in prison is terrifying. Thank you for giving people a voice and the chance to raise awareness. Yours Faithfully, Anonymous. 

Family and Prisoner Interaction Packs

This is to inform our readers that I have almost completed the family interaction packs that offer great ideas for writing to loved ones in prison. 
This Easter I have been busy making the floating tea-cup which I reckon would be a creative idea for prisoners to make for The Clink Restaurants. Just a thought! 

For further info email me at: 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Boy, 12, held after man bludgeoned with metal bars in Manchester street

A 12-year-old boy is among six people arrested after a man was beaten unconscious with metal bars and left with "potentially fatal" injuries.Several attackers bludgeoned the 29-year-old victim on Chinley Avenue in Moston, Manchester, police said.He is in a critical condition in hospital after being found in the street with a serious head injury on Saturday night.

Prison is not working for my son from Pam

Hello Prison Widow Blog. 
I am an avid reader of your blog and I am a mother of a repeat offender who is in prison at this current time. 
Despite my son having a wonderful supportive family, he is back to his old ways almost immediately on release from Her Majesty's Prison. One of the most frustrating things is, he isn't a bad lad. Even the prison officers have commented that he is polite and causes no trouble. 
My son however is a drug user. Our family decided on an intervention because we didn't have any other options left, but since researching and taking note from other families of drug users on a forum, we now know that we as a family cannot help unless my son wants to stop using drugs and goes in to recovery. Other concerns is that he is using drugs in custody although he rarely asks for extra money. As a family, we do know that he does portraits in prison which we are guessing are in exchange for drugs. He is an exceptionally talented artist. 
Should we and of course other families in this predicament reside ourselves to the fact that as long as there are drugs in prison, there will be no such thing as rehabilitation? We are an open minded family and of course theft and house breaking should warrant a prison sentence, but what good is a prison sentence when all he does when he gets released is do it all over again? I fully understand that he needs to be in prison in order to protect the public but he is continuing too re-offend so public protection is only temporary which again I need to stress, what does the purpose of prison serve for those like my son with a drug problem? Love to all, Pam. 

Rebuild the whole prison system from an ex offender

Catching drones and reforming prison? Go on surprise me! 
When the drones come on top, the drug dealers will find alternative ways, so Mr and Mrs Police and probation be warned! The whole system needs rebuilding and this is coming from an ex con who has served enough time in HMP to know. What I would really, really like to know is how does spending 23 hours in a cell rehabilitate people? That's what I want to know. I took part in some restorative work once and my victim asked me what I was doing to put something back in to society. With the greatest of respect I was doing absolutely f**k all because I was wasting away both physically and mentally in a cell and quite often puffing away on drugs. It's either mind numbing TV or attempting to write to your family and what can you write when you are caged up all day? There is nothing to write.
When I met my victim, the gentleman whose house I robbed twice, he was disgusted that I spent my time in prison doing jack sh*t. Sorry but I refuse to sugar coat it. I put zero back in to the community because I never got the chance to put anything back. But what about rehabilitation? Becoming a better person and learning my lesson in prison? Don't make me laugh! If the system is going to cage me up all day in a cell with someone smoking drugs then sod it I'm gonna join them because I have been an addict now for 14 years. It would be like locking up an alcoholic for 23 hours a day with a bottle of vodka and expecting them not to take a swig. The scary part of my rant is that all this doesn't stop me from returning to prison! ANON 

Police unit to tackle drones dropping drugs and phones into jails

A specialist unit has been set up in an attempt to stop drones dropping drugs and mobile phones into prisons. The new team will spearhead efforts to combat the problem of remote-controlled flying devices being used to get contraband into jails. There has been a sharp increase in incidents involving drones in recent years, with gadgets being detected in or around jails in England and Wales 33 times in 2015. This is up from two the year before - and in 2013 there were no recorded incidents. In November, the Ministry of Justice said there had been a "big increase" in the number of drone reports over the last year. The new squad of prison and police officers will work with law enforcement agencies and HM Prison and Probation Service to inspect drones that are recovered in a bid to identify those involved in attempts to smuggle in contraband. Investigators will bring together intelligence from across prisons and the police to pinpoint lines of inquiry, which will be passed to local forces and organised crime officers. he crackdown comes as the Government attempts to tackle rising levels of violence and self-harm behind bars. Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah said: "We are absolutely determined to tackle the illegal flow of drugs and mobile phones into our prisons and turn them into places of safety and reform. "The threat posed by drones is clear, but our dedicated staff are committed to winning the fight against those who are attempting to thwart progress by wreaking havoc in establishments all over the country. "My message to those who involve themselves in this type of criminal activity is clear; we will find you and put you behind bars."In one case recently drones were used as part of attempts to flood prisons with contraband worth around £48,000.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The battle isn't on the inside, it's on the out from David

The problem for me wasn't gaining qualifications on the inside, it was putting them in to practice on the out.
I kept my head down in prison and for once of a word, did well. I wasn't dumb or naive but I knew how difficult it was to find work on the out. My sister, who visited me every week without fail with no criminal record found it hard enough to get a job and she has some impressive qualifications so I knew I was up against it. 
I was eventually released and got myself registered at the library for Internet access and started applying for anything and everything. If I didn't my benefits would be sanctioned so it made sense for me to do what I had to and needed to to do. I got a few interviews lined up, and in all fairness didn't do well in them because after years of drug use and a few years of sobriety, my confidence wasn't great and I lacked it. The next hurdle was my criminal record and although there is the offenders rehabilitation act, employers can hand pick anyway so I don't believe that it makes much of a difference. The coin flipped, I understand why some employers would be reluctant to employ people with criminal records but in the same breath we need to be given a chance to redeem ourselves otherwise what is the point of being locked up? I agree prison is needed to protect the public but it should also be a place to transform people and at present it doesn't. 
I am still actively seeking work and I will keep trying. My family are supportive and my probation officer is helpful. I have grown up to realise that working with the authorities is more productive than working against them. 
As for boredom in prison? It can be excruciating and does have an impact on a persons mental health especially on hours of bang up with nothing to do. Your mind races and sometimes your thoughts aren't healthy at all. 
I would like to hear from like minded people who have been released and are trying to find work. Thank you for listening, kindest regards, David. 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Prisons think education is the be all and end all from a former prisoner

My story. I didn't like school, my mum nearly got a jail sentence because I played truancy and I was placed on a scheme with a company learning mechanics. I excelled in it, turned up everyday and was happy. But I took my eye off the ball and when my friends started experimenting in drugs, I followed the leader and my choices landed me in prison a few times. In prison they think they can mould a person by forcing you in to education but for me and many others, it was something we had to do not something we wanted to do. Prisons are under the impression that education is the key to rehabilitation which I think is delusional and hysterical. One thing it is good at I guess is teaching those who cannot read or write but cell mates and prisoners help those to progress, not the tutors. I used to sit with a guy every night and help him with his studies. What I would like to see in prisons is entrepreneurial individuals who have talent and who can deliver their successes. I am street wise and lets get real, I am never going to be a doctor or professional person and don't want to be so I am not interested in sitting in a class studying sh*t that I am never gonna use on the outside. If there were classes for self-employment, I would be interested. There's a lot of talented people in prison and their talents go to waste because the prisons want to programme them in to mundane labour. To put it plainly, I won't be working in a job that pays peanuts because the Government says its right. My parents work and some weeks they struggle to eat. The Government are playing games, they are making the rich richer and poor poorer. As for committing crime, well the country needs criminals. There would be a lot of people out of jobs without them. People can try and reform prisons all they like but my opinion is this, is there really any point? Some will make it here on the out but it aint prison that has rehabilitated them. The majority are supported by their families not probation or a maths tutor in jail. Prison doesn't embrace talent or individual needs, the system thinks that 2+2 = 4 is the key to success lol! From Grey. 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

SPICE: Homeless man collapses in Bolton town centre after taking just 3 drags of 'zombie' drug

Picture: The Bolton News 

THIS was the scene in Bolton town centre this afternoon when a homeless man collapsed after apparently smoking the 'zombie' drug Spice.Friends of the man said he had taken ‘just three drags’ from a discarded butt before collapsing unconscious just off Victoria Square.A paramedic was able to bring him around and asked him if he needed further medical assistance, which he declined.

The prisoners run the show from SK an ex offender

Prisons in the UK, let me tell you all right now; do not REHABILITATE!
I am an ex offender, a prolific one in my time and I now work a 40 hr week on the out and have settled down.
I found working a full time job difficult and I will explain why. At work there is discipline; there are rules and you have to abide by them or you get fired, right? I wasn't prepared for that because in prison, the prisoners run the show. I remember one incident where a prisoner threatened a female officer. She was then from what I was told, too scared to go to work. I'm not scared to go to work every morning, why should the officers be scared going to work? There's got to be discipline and prisons don't have it. Basically it's all bull sh*t. I have seen over the years officers getting a good hiding and I have seen prisoners being spoken to like crap by officers which leads to repercussions too. None of its right, not a single bit of it. 
Family visits are another joke too. I once had mine cancelled but it was OK because for a small ''fee'' I borrowed a mobile phone and was able to chat to my Mrs on social media so it was all good. I've heard it in various articles that regular cell shake downs don't take place because there isn't enough staff. Doesn't make a difference I'm afraid because if any contraband is found and confiscated, depending on who the prisoner is, you might get threats to your family on the out, so for the wage, if you were an officer, would it really be worth taking someones mobile phone on the strength that harm could come to your family? Like I said, the show is run by the prisoners and personally I think the Government need to shake things up. If they are scared, which I think they are, because of riots etc, taser the rioters. Prisoners riot because they can. I can hear some people now; ''my suchabody better not be tasered'' well fair enough but my nephew better not die in a fire because your suchabody caused a riot. 
I read a post on your blog about someone asking ''what do NOMS manage''? They manage sweet FA because their hands are tied. Some of the prisons need knocking down and built again from scratch. And by the way, to the human righters, you can maintain human rights with discipline! All the best SK

Monday, 10 April 2017

Boredom equals depression, equals suicide from Tim (ex con)

Dear PWUK. I am an ex-con and I totally get the boredom thing in prison. Boredom sure does lead to depression and depression can develop in to things more serious like very unhealthy thoughts. I went through that myself and if prisons think rehabilitation is sat spaced out on your bed all day with f*** all to do, which half of the time you do in prison, well shame on them. No wonder the suicide rate is up in prisons and as for the privatised nicks, they operate on profit so they needs criminals in their jails! Hope is something every prisoner wants and they don't get it. Riots, drugs, violence, well what do they expect really? Caging people up with nothing to do equals disaster and a massive head knock on your mental health! You can go stir crazy hence why prisoners take drugs to forget the crap around them. Tim. :) 

Activity distraction packs for prisoners

My daughter is always writing to me saying she's bored. She's been in prison (closed) for 4 months. She is in her cell for a good number of hours a day with nothing to do and she sounds depressed. I was wondering if you could send some paper templates for me to send on to her to at least keep her mind stimulated.

I will indeed post one to you. This is the sort of thing prison's need to get a major grip with. Boredom can lead to depression for sure and to combat boredom in a safe way for prisoners is so easy. My opinion is that every prison should have a team of activity coordinators, not prison officers given the role of head of activities etc, people with safe yet age appropriate activity ideas should be employed on a seperate basis. But that's just my opinion. I am now working on activity/distration packs that will absolutely work and being an activity facilitator for a large charity, I know for a fact the packs will work. It frustrates me that safe activities are so simple to create, yet prisoners are still bored and low in mood. 
P.S don't forget you heard it here first! 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Uruguayan prison where inmates set up shop

Every weekday morning, Cesar Campo wakes up, eats a quick breakfast and heads to work in a converted warehouse where he builds tables, chairs, bookcases and anything else that clients request. Close by, his neighbours make bricks, grow vegetables and run shops such as cafes, a bakery, a barber's salon and a tattoo studio. All the workers are inmates living at Punta de Rieles, a progressive "open" prison just outside the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo. "We never imagined we would have something like this," said Campo, 50, who has spent 23 years behind bars for bank robbery. "It's a model prison which offers opportunities you don't find anywhere else." Alternative approachWith incidents of prison violence recently hitting the headlines around Latin America, particularly in Brazil where more than 100 people died in January alone in a series of riots, the liberal philosophy behind Punta de Rieles offers an alternative view of how correctional institutions can be operated.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Paper art template en-route to HMP Bronzefield

By Alison Henderson PWUK 
Today I posted a template to a lady who emailed me about her daughter being bored and in low mood. She is serving a sentence in HMP Bronzefield, has no issues there might I point out but is She has a little daughter so I had an idea for her and sent her Mother the template to pass on along with some instructions. Apart from the pearls around the photo, everything is paper, just paper. Obviously pearl embellishments won't be allowed through but you can edge it with a Biro pen or pencil, it'll still be effective. There are no tricks involved and most importantly nothing in the form of contraband. It's as safe as it gets. I made this one up today with a pic of my grandson in the middle and used just black and white A4 paper. The two decorative flowers are just paper too. Instead of having your loved ones photo's stuck to the wall this paper wall art is so effective and even better in the flesh! But hang on, how about the glue? Toothpaste will do, it's as simple as that! The lady has assured me she will keep me posted and there is absolutely no reason on this earth why the template should be refused by the prison. Experiment number 1 on it's way! 

Giant Paper Wall Art Flower coming soon. prisonwidowcopyright2017

My own health is important too from Helen

Hi and good morning. It's never good hearing about assaults in prison and that includes both staff and inmates.
I constantly worry about my son. He is in prison, has mental health problems and is vulnerable. Like a lot of families, I am on medication for anxiety and was put on it 12 months before my son went to prison because his drug use was too much to bear and I had no one to talk to. Your blog has helped me to understand that I am not on my own though and I am taking each day as it comes. It's hard putting yourself first when you're a Mum because our natural instincts is to look out for and protect our kids. But I have realised now that I can't stop or fix his drug addiction. I visit my son in prison and will stand by him but I also have to think about my own health and wellbeing in this situation too. Thanks for all you do and love sent to other families in the same boat. Helen. 

HMP Altcourse: Prison officer's neck 'slashed by inmate'


A prison officer has had his neck slashed by an inmate at a prison on Merseyside, the BBC understands.The officer was taken to hospital where his condition was described as "stable", a Merseyside Police spokesman said.He said the force was investigating an "assault of a member of staff at HMP Altcourse on Wednesday".The BBC understands the attack took place in a transfer area and the inmate was on remand facing serious charges.Director for HMP Altcourse Steve Williams said: "We continue to support the officer and his family."

We hope the person in question fully recovers and our wishes sent to him and his family.
Last month I and my colleague spent a morning in HMP Altcourse demonstrating safe crafts. The staff made us feel extremely welcome and those we met were very passionate about their work. 
No one deserves this, absolutely no one. News like this saddens me. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

I want to be a better person, not a better drug addict.

Dear Prison Widow. I don't want my real name disclosing. I would like to share my personal story with your readers. I am 34, and my court date is next week. I am up on a theft charge and will be going to prison - again. 
I am addicted to heroin and Valium and commit crime to fund my addiction. I have had enough of living under the influence of drugs but prison won't do me any good. I know that because I will be offered drugs as soon as I step foot inside there. I can't even tell you what I have put my family through and they still stand by me which is a miracle. I have been to prison once before and was released the same as I was before I was convicted. I want to be a better person in jail, not a better drug addict. I want to do things in my life and be a better dad to my daughter who I haven't seen in 18 months because of the situation I'm in. I don't blame her Mother, it is best my daughter doesn't see me whilst I am doing drugs. Kids shouldn't be around all that, it's no good. I hate being the person I am and want to get back to the person I once was. I know there's only me who can do it but if they bang me up with another user who doesn't want to stop using then I am up against it. People who think heroin addicts can just stop are very naive. That stuff is ruthless and completely changes the chemical balance in your brain. There isn't a quick fix but there isn't rehabilitation in prison for it either. WIsh me luck, I'm going to need it! ANON

Hi to all and thank you for your on-going support. We have now purchased domain and the address to our blog will change next week although the layout will remain exactly the same.
We will keep you posted when this becomes live. Thanks again for your support.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Paper sells!

Since teaching people affordable and recycled crafts, the feedback we are currently receiving is amazing. The top picture, is cheap and easy to make! A large bag of wooden letters are sold on EBay for just a couple of quid and the background, well it's just floral paper and patterned craft paper is sold in pound shops, 30 sheets for a £1.00. 
The paper flower below costs around 10p to make and looks fab in the home! 
Remember that the crafts we teach are sellable and popular items that people are currently purchasing online, so as well as being a hobby for someone, there is a little profit too! 

What are NOMS managing?

The National Offenders Management Services manage what? I will start by saying this; I do not blame the prison officers, probation officers or Governors. I have served time in 3 prison's, 2 HMP and 1 privately run. I did not have any issues or problems in any of them. If anything, they tried to help but time wasn't on their hands and the officers were run off their feet. They were OK, they were doing their jobs and some of them were passionate about it. 
The issue for me lies with higher management. The men and the women at the top of the NOMS chain. They simply do not listen nor wish to listen. In the space of just 6 months, I was assigned to 4 different probation officers and when I signed on, I had to repeat everything because my original probation had been moved on. I was passed from f***ing pillar to post and the bottom line was they couldn't manage a pi*s up in a brewery. I come across the words, 'set up to fail' frequently when reading your blog and it is beyond a doubt the truth.
I will point out though that the probation officers were sound, I got along with them but they knew nothing about me so I was constantly going over old ground. I was a substance mis-user, had a drug habit for 18 years and was referred to groups within my area to address my issues. The groups were also full of active users, some of which were gouching and nodding off during the sessions. Drug dealing took place as soon as the sessions were over and the doors kept on revolving. In the end, it was my brother who did the job of the probation officer and I have been 10 months clean and on a script. I am grateful for all he does and he keeps me busy. We go fishing, to the gym, to reputable groups who stand no messing and I am doing alright. I craved normality but was stuck in a cycle. Drugs in prison are rife so my sentences were drug fuelled. It's easy for someone to say, say no, when you are banged up with a gear head tooting smack. Don't forget, I was 18 years in on heroin so saying no when a guy is smoking gear in the same cell as you is difficult. The temptation in prison is there on a plate. I have recently send a letter to NOMS head office and haven't had a reply. I'm not holding my breath either. Sometimes I even think whether they have any intention of putting their foot down as regards to drugs in prison. Best wishes to all, from Mark. 

moving on for the sake of me and my baby

Hi there, if anything your blog gives me hope although I am in a lost situation right now. My partner was clean when I met him but started taking drugs again when I was pregnant. I left him and moved in with my parents but that didn't stop him from contacting me and asking me for money. I gave birth and did not allow him to see the baby if he was high. Certainly I never gave him access to her of a weekend, which he wanted,  even for 5 minutes. No chance. When our baby was 6 months old he called me from prison and asked me to visit him. I went to see him, without our daughter, and he looked great. He was the person I first met and had put on weight, looked healthy and my feelings came flooding back.
I stayed in touch with him, wrote to him and visited on occasions with our daughter. He was released when our daughter was 18 months old and we started seeing each other again. By that time I got myself a little flat and was happy with just me and daughter. He stayed over some nights and it seemed to be working. Weeks down the line he knocked at my door around midnight and was high. I didn't let him in and he became abusive so I rang the Police. He was moved on but wasn't arrested. After that he was calling at all hours and the Police wasn't interested. Needless to say he is now back in prison and looks well and healthy again. It is such a vicious cycle and I can't do it anymore which is why I have cut all contact. I have changed my number, I don't respond to his sorry letters and I have to move on for the sake of myself and my baby. Yours faithfully, ANON