Hi Alison, Prison Widow UK.
My name is Joe and I have been in and out of the British prison system most of my life.
Before I continue, please let me state that this email is not a 'woe is me' one.
There are plenty of people who have had struggles in life who have never been to prison and I take full responsibility for my choices in the past. Yes; choices.
I was fostered out at 4 and adopted at 9. At 13 I started using drugs. As you can see the pattern is there; and so much of my life was spent in institutions and then HMP.
My crimes were drug related; theft, robbery; and dealing.
Whilst in prison; I used drugs actively. Cell searches were neither here or there due to staff shortages so it was easy to use drugs and do business inside.
On the plus side; I did learn some skills and was paid prison wages for working. The downside was that prison work does not rehabilitate anyone for release in to the free world. The wages are not realistic; the work environment is not realistic and the discipline is not realistic.
Going back a few years on one of my release moments; I did quite well. I got myself a job through an agency and started working in a factory as a packer on a production line. I found it extremely difficult to adjust to discipline within the workforce and ended up being fired because I told the manager to f*** off. I used my prison attitude in a world that does not accept prison attitude. Not long after that; I was sent to prison again for dealing drugs because it was easy money and I used the attitude that I have always known.
I see it so many times with the young lads now in prison and it's not good.
I have been out now for 6 months and shamefully this is the longest time I have been out of prison.
As for prison reform? There's a long long way to go and I am extremely skeptical of anything the Government proposes. There's money on the line and let us be realistic; the private nicks need to make money. In order to do that; they need people like me in their prisons.
Great blog, keep it up! Regards Joe.