Where I find myself now.

Where are we now?  Time has worked its wonders and provided a comforting buffer between now and that fateful day.   Some events are still too painful to retrieve but others can be taken out of the memory cupboard, dusted down and inspected at leisure.  I’ve yet to discover any humour in what happened, I don’t believe we will never “look back and laugh”.  First anniversary milestones have thankfully come and gone and as with all annual events, repetition has made their impact flabby.

It’s only material things that have changed, but these have been the catalyst for dramatic conversions of opinions and actions.  I am no longer a “lady of leisure”.  I, like the majority of the population, work for my honest crust.  I am still thankful that I was spared enough money to purchase my house outright, to provide a roof over our heads, to give us a place of sanctuary.  If I’d have had to get a mortgage, I don’t know where we would be right now, my salary just couldn’t take the extra expense and to date Mike is still not earning.

The most important and fundamental change has been to us – as a couple.  We have been brought so close together by this event and more, we both have a desire to help others who find themselves in the same situation as we do.  I used to wonder if, upon release, Mike would wish to turn his back on the experience, to move away as far and fast as possible, but it has not proved to be the case.  He is now, together with a colleague, also a person with a criminal conviction, trying to establish a company that trains offenders whilst they are serving their sentence and finds them work, and continues to provide work on release.  The knock on effect is that they can turn their back on crime, in some cases a fervent desire of the offender but even more so of their families.  Serving a prison sentence is not over when you are released, society continues to punish.  Let’s differentiate here from those wanting to turn their lives around and those that do not accept they have done wrong.  You do the crime, you do the time, but if they want to, let’s give everyone an equal chance to find a job and put right what they have done wrong.  Prisons cost you and me a huge amount of money and I for one would rather not have ex-offenders join the numbers of long term unemployed and become reliant on state benefits.

I’ve not really got any more to add to my blog, I think we have come full circle and now my time is taken up with work and helping Mike get this business off the ground.  It was a good thing to do at the time, a vent for all my rage and indignation.  There are some people who I really wished could have read what I was going through, but I simply doubt it would have had any effect on their lives.

Tell us something new Mr Grayling

Seeing the headline on the BBC News website, I had to take a peak to see what Mr Grayling, our Justice Secretary, had to say when interviewed for The Mail Online:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272572/Criminals-face-new-spartan-prisons-Justice-Secretary-s-tough-regime-uniforms-Sky-TV-pocket-money.html#ixzz2JqjvQurU

With headline grabbing gusto, Mr G says “Criminals face new ‘spartan prisons’……plans tough regime with uniforms, no Sky TV and less pocket money”.  Oh.  Is that all?  What about the new mentoring scheme that was being discussed a couple of weeks ago in order to stop reoffending, where’s that policy gone?  Instead, The Daily Mail is happy to air it’s old chestnuts again describing Britain’s prisons as “holiday camp jails” and banging on about banning Sky TV.   Mr Grayling, unlike the vast majority of us, believes that “prisoners do not deserve the kind of lifestyle and “frills” that are beyond the reach of families on low wages”.  Sorry, just refresh my memory, you did say that Mr Grayling was Justice Secretary – is this England’s Justice Secretary or some other planet?

Prisoners are in prison, and just to enlighten anyone who does not realise it, in prison you have your freedom removed (yes, you deserve it, but that’s not what’s being discussed here).  I have been to a holiday camp and I have a husband who has been to prison.  When discussing both outings, we could not find a single thing that was the same, except the poor quality food.  I tend to find holiday camps allow you to come and go as you please, to allow you to bring whatever you want in with you and to leave with whatever you want.  You can stay in and use the amenities, or go out.  You’re only there for a brief time.  If you’ve been to a holiday camp that is like a prison, it is highly likely to be shut down as no one else would go on holiday there.

We do allow our prisoners to have television whilst inside – given that a lot of offenders can spend the majority of their time in their shared cells with nothing else to do, how about, rather than banning TV, we ensure prisoners are otherwise occupied.  How about, and this is a radical thought, instead of locking them up most of the day, we make them embark upon rehabilitating educational schemes, or maybe as part of their sentence, we make them train for work so that when they leave, rather than complain that they can’t keep up with their much loved Sky TV programmes, they can go and get jobs.

The Daily Mail describes “….. the biggest prison regime shake up for 60 years” as stopping Sky TV, enforcing the wearing of drab grey prison overalls, the use of “pocket money” to buy toiletries and sweets to be curbed and not allowing gay prisoners to share cells.  Oh please, is that all you can come up with.  Do you really think your average criminal is going to be quaking in his/her boots at the thought of having to do time wearing an overall?  And how exactly is that going to dissuade someone who has done time from reoffending?  Isn’t it better to rehabilitate?  To concentrate on why they leave and reoffend?  Prisons don’t work, but they don’t not work because of the outfit you wear or the tv programme you watch.  These people, and, I might say, the long term unemployed, need jobs.  They need to be out grafting, providing for their families.  They need a better training scheme that currently exists inside.  Don’t keep piffling away at the edges Mr Grayling, get in there and do something to make a difference – making Daily Mail readers red faced and angry at the thought of a prisoner watching Sky TV whilst floating on a lilo in the prison spa is not going to stop an ex-prisoner from committing another crime because they need money.