I'll begin by telling you that I have been to prison 13 times for a string of offences related to drugs.
I too like a fellow contributor to your blog tried to advise certain people in authority, and likewise my views fell on deaf ears. Perhaps an anthology of stories written by ex offenders is an option. I for one would be eager to assist.
I am a recovering heroin addict and I have been clean for just under three years. The only victims I had chance to apologise to was my family. Many times over I have heard quotes by prisoners families that they do not wish to be labelled as victims; but I for one put my loved ones through sheer hell so I absolutely refer to my family as victims. It isn't right to house break in to strangers houses and steal and it isn't OK to rob your own family either. Families are victims too. I can painstakingly confirm that I stole from my own Mother more than a stranger on the street. She never once pressed charges but that does not make her exempt from being a victim of crime. Restorative practice work isn't just about meeting strangers you have wronged. It goes beyond that in my humble opinion but sadly families of prisoners receive little support in this particular area.
I remember a certain court appearance where my Mother was spat at and called a whore courtesy of my wrongdoings. My victims were scathing, rightly so, but my Mother was a victim too. Perhaps more so than the family sat in the gallery applauding my sentence.
Prison didn't punish me; and it didn't rehabilitate me either. I have been in various ones thirteen times so that speaks for itself. I owe my success to three people; those three people aren't professionals, probation officers or support workers, they are my Mother and two Sisters. I've put the work in too but without them, I would be another statistic buried six foot under courtesy of heroin.
Thank you for allowing people like myself to share their personal stories. The kindest of regards, Paul.