Very few people know that as well as being the founder of Prisoners Families Voices and a regular columnist for Inside Time, I also work as an activities coordinator for people with Alzheimer's and Dementia on a secure EMI Unit. I am extremely proud of the work I do and I am 100% committed to the residents.
You may think that this type of work is an escape from the work I do with prisoners families? Wrong. I have met family members of prisoners with dementia and the topic of prison is often mentioned by a few residents who talk about their sons who have either served a prison sentence or are in prison. But how do we address the 'prison' issue with those suffering from dementia? They are unable to visit their loved ones inside because they reside on a secure unit. The residents in this situation are also unable to write to them because of their illnesses, yet they frequently remember where their son's are and call out their names. Those with advanced dementia are unable to maintain family ties because neither they or the prisoner have access to physical contact. Heartbreakingly both parties are simply locked away in their own worlds. So how do family members deal with having a loved one with dementia and a loved one in prison? How does 'the maintaining family ties' promotion work in these circumstances? Think about it because this is a subject that it is real and very rarely, if ever, spoken about.