Ignorance is bliss!


Isn’t ignorance bliss…..   I only say this because as one of my other posts indicates, I’m a great believer in motto’s such as “forewarned is forearmed”  (allowed clothing in prison), “you get what you pay for” (the seam on my Matalan cardy has come adrift),  “a sledgehammer to crack a nut” (Judge in High Court re our Freezing Order (still in place)) and “what goes around comes around” (I’m still waiting).   I today discovered, after reading this extremely interesting article by Vicki Helyar-Cardwell and Julie Harmsworth (http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2011/10/14/life-after-prison) and then clarified using the brilliant Criminal Record Disclosure Calculator, courtesy of UNLOCK (http://www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk/) that my husband’s conviction will never be spent.  Whoopee doo-dah.   Let’s hear it for all those “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” advocates – now you can save your money, you don’t have to “throw away the key”, just let them do their time, let them out and watch them try to rebuild their lives upon release.  Not only that, you can achieve a double whammy by tarring the family with the same mucky brush.

Let’s put sarcasm aside for a second.  Why am I so distressed?  Firstly, I don’t think Mike knows or understands this.  Apparently, any sentence passed down in excess of 2.5 years is never “spent”.   This means that his conviction will ALWAYS have to be declared when asked.

Secondly, Mike has not had the benefit of researching on internet whilst inside, but I have.  I know that once he is released, I will have to advise my insurance companies (home and vehicle) that a “wrong-doer” is living in my house.  Doesn’t matter if he has served his time (three years), we will still have to reveal this information.    This means my insurers will probably either refuse to insure me or will bump up the price so that I cannot afford insurance.  Let’s not even go there on applying for other types of insurance which everyone takes for granted.  We have no sickness cover, life cover, unemployment cover, that’s a luxury to which funds don’t stretch to at present.  If we ever afford to go on holiday abroad, I can’t begin to think how much foreign travel insurance would cost!

I haven’t told my insurers yet – technically Mike is not living with me, so I hope I’m not committing a crime.

The article goes on to report that “For those coming out of prison securing work will now pose a real challenge, despite the fact that employment can reduce reoffending by between a third and a half”.  In our case, my husband will come home to me, to the house I own.  He’s lucky.  He will not be a reoffender, we both know this.  But as to finding a job, well that is an unknown factor.  It may be that I have to become the breadwinner for a long while and on my £7.00 an hour, this might prove challenging.  I am coping at the moment, because my outgoings are extremely low.  I purchased a cheap and basic home insurance policy, with no whistles and bells, same for the car.  I really do not want these payments to rise.

Hopefully Mike will still have access to a bank account, but who knows.  Our joint account with Barclays is still frozen (big thank you to FFW), but really, we want nothing to do with it when it becomes unfrozen.  He did have a further account with another Bank, but I don’t know whether when unfrozen this will become immediately accessible.  This is an interesting one for other prisoners.   Most banks require such a lot of ID and proof of address, that the majority of prisoners have no hope of opening a bank account.  Being inside means you don’t have access to “utility bills”, former addresses, credit history etc.  Can you imagine what it must be like to have no bank account?  No access to any money, no popping to the hole in the wall, no cheque, no debit card.  Even if you do manage to earn any money, how are you going to access it?  Can’t have it paid direct to your bank can you.  Companies would raise an eyebrow if you went in and said “can I have my monthly salary in a brown envelope please”.

Again, it’s one of those things that those innocent of any wrong doing just don’t give a thought to.  And why should we, it doesn’t concern us?  Well, it does concern us.  Again, it’s our taxes that go towards the housing of prisoners and we want prisoners to stop reoffending so we don’t have to pay so much tax.  Don’t we?  And we want prisoners to look after themselves upon release, but what do we do to smooth the way for them to find jobs, open bank accounts and live “normal” lives.  These are little things, but the next time you read in the paper how high the reoffending rate is, give a little thought to the reasons why and maybe enlighten any friends/colleagues who don’t have the benefit of this “close to the action” experience.  It’s another reason to warn others against committing a crime – any crime.

Banking for prisoners link:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11265379

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