Tuesday, 21 February 2017

All in my head - From Ian, ex offender

Boredom in prison is boring. In your head you can conjure up the perfect prison release story and live happily ever after; but it never quite works out that way. Prison is a place that offers nothing and when you step your foot out of it; there's only two roads to follow, ones left and the other is right. Right is a good one to follow; but both end up being left if you are released to no home, no job and no family. It doesn't make any odds which road you take; the same shit is at the end of both of them which is usually someones tatty sofa, and a sleeping bag, if you're lucky! I did OK in prison though; I learnt new skills and in my head I was determined to get to the "And he lived happily ever after" page; but the page was always missing. Never mind though, in my head whilst banged up lay on my bed; I was going to make it; turn my life around, stop being a pillock and make something of myself. When I had a toot of gear (heroin) boy I became an entrepreneur and the legal money making straight-head schemes I had going on where better than Richard Bransons! But it was all in my head. I didn't have a pot to piss in when I got released so the pipe dreams soon burst!
I won't tell you how many prison sentences I have served but every prison sentence was always my last. I dreaded being released from prison. Days leading up to it I'd be awaken all night and envious that my pad mate had another 6 months left. I loathed release day because I was being set free back in to a society that I didn't understand. I never understood the outside because I'd never lived in it how people should. Both my parents were smacked up junkies, dole dossers and theives. Normality is alien to me. What's normality? I was raised believing that coppers were scum, only posh people had jobs and probation officers were tossers! My Dad had a few jobs though; according to my Mum. I remember her taking me to visit him in a large building where he worked as a security guard. Like other parents he never came home at tea time and sat down to a meal. He worked away for months on end,  sometimes a few years - in a prison workshop for the Queen! 
Mum wasn't faithful and I had a number of "uncles" whilst Dad was banged up. They smoked the same "cigarettes" as Mum off a piece of foil too! Funnily enough, when I was 15 I tried one of Mum's "special cigarettes." That's where it all started. But fast forward it to now. I'm 37, and I am beginning to understand society, thanks to my probation officer. It's a long process and it's terrifying but baby steps. I hope one day in the future the book is in tact and I can turn the final page. From Ian ex offender 

Anxious - from Anonymous

Hi. Please don't print my name. I went visiting my OH (other half) in prison over weekend and asked him if he had taken Spice during his stay at HMP. He said he had but only a few times. I feel terrified and also fed up that he is letting me down because he is adamant he is going to sort out his ways. I can't support him if he can't say no to drugs in prison as this will have an impact on him surely when he is released. There should be more focused family activities and interaction involved but nothing seems to be happening. Anonymous

Monday, 20 February 2017

Prison officers in 31 jails set for pay rises of up to £5,000

Thousands of prison officers at jails in London and south-east England are to get pay rises of up to £5,000 to boost staffing levels.The increase means new starters could receive up to £29,500 a year.Ministers said they wanted to attract the "best talent", after concerns the prison service was understaffed.Jails have been hit by staff strikes and rising violence in recent months. A union welcomed the rise, but said ministers were "papering over cracks".The Prison Officers Association (POA) also said the increase was "divisive" as it didn't affect all staff.

Dear Prison Widow UK Blog. I'm not being offensive but my Dad is a prison officer and why is it that only London and the South-East of the UK are getting rises? He works in a challenging prison in the North and says this is the way the cookie always crumbles, it's always London prisons and surrounding areas that get everything even good press on events and schemes for prisoners!
There are plenty of prisons that do good work but no, it's always London and down south that get exposure. From Lauren. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Families reducing reoffending DOES WORK!

In response to the ex offender who lied on his application form in order to turn his/her life around, please take it from me, don't feel guilty. My probation officer once said to me that honesty is the best policy but he didn't present me with an A to Z list of employers who take on ex cons, simply because he didn't have such resources. Let's cut the nonsense, the politicians I have voted for in the past have been dishonest and full of proverbial so I have no problem looking out for me and my family. I am an ex con and have been working in a factory for 4 years on a production line. This country is all about dog eat dog and I would rather tell a little porky pie than be banged up on a wing again with people smashed out of their faces on drugs. Another thing too is that my partner should have got the wages and hourly rate my probation officer earned on my referral because he did nothing whatsoever to support me. My partner did all that and yes partners and families can reduce reoffending but only if the ex offender wants it. You have gotta want it to succeed so for me any so called professional can advise what they want but take it from the horses mouth, you have gotta want to resettle and move on in a law abiding circle. 
No offence, but if I listened to my probation officer, I wouldn't be employed right now and I would probably be banged up again. So my gratitude lies and always will lie with my partner who has been my rock.
I do not feel in the slightest bit sorry for telling a fib because my fib has changed my life. I am sure some of those sitting in Parliament right now on mega wages will agree with me. From Scott ex con. 

Children of alcoholics ringing helpline for bedtime stories

A children's helpline received 32,000 calls and emails last year - with kids as young as five asking to be read bedtime stories because their parents were too drunk to put them to bed. Some children call the National Association for Children of Alcoholics so regularly that counsellors keep a pile of their favourite books by the phone. One child, a seven-year-old girl who called on Christmas Day while hiding from her drunk parents under her bed, asked to be told a story about her imaginary friend - a dog called Bruce.The charity also helped a five-year-old girl whose addict mum locked herself in the bathroom overnight and was found dead by paramedics.

Reducing reoffending don't make me laugh!

Hi, I'm not being funny or trying to rain on people's parade here, but supporting someone with a drug addiction and saying families can reduce reoffending is bull S! My ex had a brilliant home life, 2 fab kids, and still reoffended because he was a drug addict. Families can't reduce addiction, therefore they CANNOT reduce reoffending! Are some of these professional people for real? I take it they fully understand the mental damage and what substances such as heroin does to a person's brain? It alters the chemicals in a person's brain forever therefore the ONLY person who can reduce offending is the offender and the drug addict! Sorry but it makes me laugh how the Government pile on this crap that families play a major role in reducing reoffending. Maybe yes for people who aren't on drugs but don't you think that the programme HMP Northumberland proved something, because I sure do! Keep up the fab work Prison Widow UK blog because I am glad there's some truth being put out here! From Jeanette. 

Quitting Spice & K2 may be harder than you think - By Spice Addiction Support

Over the last 6 years, I have personally witnessed the drug “Spice” – also called synthetic marijuana, synthetic weed, herbal incense, herbal potpourri, K2, fake weed, synthetic pot, noids, synth and fweed – go from relative obscurity to being sold at newspaper stands, head shops, online stores and convenience stores all around the world. I have also seen it affect thousands of lives, including mine. I was a heavy Spice user for over 4 years. I let it control every moment of my life. I had no idea what it was doing to me. One day, I decided to read other people’s stories about their experiences with synthetic marijuana around the web. That was when I realized there were thousands of people out there just like me. That’s why I decided to start this community of people helping one another overcome their addiction to Spice. My number one goal with this site is to help inform people about the dangers of Spice – especially its addictive nature. I want people going through what I went through to know they’re not alone in their battle to overcome synthetic marijuana addiction. I have been working tirelessly to put together the world’s largest collection of information about synthetic marijuana, Spice & K2 addiction. You can browse this site to learn:

His life took over mine - from a partner of a prisoner

Dear Prison Widow. Hi to everyone. 
I read your blog all the time and would like to share a bit of my story and views. 
Twice now my partner has been to prison, he is now back inside for breaching his licence.
I am on the fence with the ''families reducing reoffending'' thing. I think it can be done but I found it incredibly stressful when my partner was released from prison. His resettlement became my sole focus and I was on his case constantly about going to his probation appointments and finding a job. He took over my life and probably because I was on his case all the time this is why he is back in prison serving the rest of his sentence. I know I shouldn't blame myself but I have been thinking how I could have supported him differently. There really isn't enough support! Thanks for listening from a partner of a serving prisoner. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Dishonesty helped change my life - from an ex offender

Hi. Here's my story and maybe I am writing this because I feel guilty.
I am an ex offender and I have been to prison 4 times. I am about 16 months clean off drugs and I have been employed for 6 months. 
The last prison sentence needed to be my last so I was determined to grow up. I found it hard to get a job and I was getting stressed on the brink of relapsing. I was sick of getting rejected so I lied on my job application and did not put down that I had been in prison. I got a job in a factory and whilst the money is not good, I feel good that I have got a job and I have never had a day off sick or have been late. I work overtime and I always work hard.
I know I am treading on thin ice because they could sack me if they find out I have been dishonest but I was desperate for a job and it would devastate me if I lost it. My convictions are for theft and I did the crimes to pay for my drug addiction. I applied for hundreds of jobs and no one gave me a chance but as soon as I stopped being honest I got a job. I am no way saying this is the right thing to do, I am just pointing out how hard it is to be given a chance.
I am taking a big risk but I feel proud working and having a normal life. It is what I have always craved but never had the chance until now. I understand if you don't print my email because I got a job through being dishonest but I need people to know what ex offenders and ex drug users are up against. Anonymous ex offender.

Friday, 17 February 2017

And who supports us? - from Kel

Here we go again! My partner has been sent to prison again and I cannot do anymore! 
I work, he has a stable home, a gorgeous daughter and a great supportive family so my guess is that he doesn't want to put the effort in to maintain this? Prison hasn't helped and is the same old tripe as it was. 
I am tired, I am very tired, and how many more times seriously do I have to cart my daughter around visiting to the same old humdrum prison visits so they can colour a picture in together? Our daughter is at that age now where she is starting to ask questions and perhaps he can explain it instead of me having to clean up the wreckage everytime! It is all well and good saying families can help and assist to reduce reoffending but I have a life too and is it really my job to prevent him from committing crime and going back to prison? What does this responsibility do to my own health and wellbeing? Why can't he give something back and support me and his daughter for a change? Where is our support? Sorry for the rant but really I have had about as much as I can take! From Kel 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Introduce tough discipline - from H

Dear Prison Widow UK. My son is serving a prison sentence in HMP and has smoked the deadly drug Spice.
He told my wife and I this week during a prison visit.
We asked him why in God's name would he smoke something that is dangerous and life threatening. His reply to us was that there was nothing else to do and it was fun having a laugh with the lads.
My wife and I were devastated when we watched the prison documentary on Monday evening. My question to the Prison Service and the Government would be; how can you rehabilitate a prisoner when prisoners are using substances that change the chemicals in the brain? How does smoking drugs in prison prepare an offender for a law abiding life in the outside world when prisoners are not taught an ounce of discipline? The justice system took our son off our hands and similar to what other families have commented on your blog, the courts in the case of our son told him that they hoped he would receive rehabilitation in prison to address his issues.
He isn't addressing his issues in prison because the issues he went in there with are still issues because he is continuing to use substances in HMP. Drugs inside prisons MUST be wiped out! Hand the prisons over to the army for a while and see whether any of the armed forces lads would stand for threats because personally I think the prisons need to introduce some tough discipline.
My wife and I are utterly appalled at a failing system that is putting prisoners and staff working in them at risk. Our son should NOT be smoking illegal substances in prison and if he dies in there because he has, mark my words, I will never let the issue lie.
Our son was sentenced to prison because he broke the law and we fully accept that. How in God's name do the victims of crime feel when they watch on TV, prisoners getting intoxicated on drugs and throwing parties in cells? Our soon will be released from prison no different. He may be worse!

What is the point of prison? - From Channy

Hi blog readers. My partner is in prison as well and I'm not being funny but some of the activities prisoners are given are activities they do at home. My fella was always on his PS3 or XBOX at home and all he does in his cell is smoke and play game on his console which he is allowed to have. 
He's never said he has smoked drugs but it wouldn't surprise me if he has because I think the majority of the time prisoners are bored senseless or it looks that way to me. It was awful watching that Panorama programme and it just looked like a load of louts partying in what should be a place where they should be learning and doing constructive things. My fella stays on his XBOX most of the day and he could do that under curfew in his own house saving the tax payers hundreds of pounds.
He is doing nothing in prison so really what is the point? 

Boredom in prison - from JN

My partner is in prison and I am interested in engaging in interesting activities and something that can make letters etc more meaningful. 
He always writes to me and says he is bored out of his head on bang up and that he has nothing much to write because he has already spoken to me prior to writing to me. Any ideas and suggestions would be appreciated all in line of course with the HMP letter writing rules etc. Please count me in because I am interested in what Prison Widow UK has to offer. 

COMMENT: Coming very soon! 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

My son died of a spice convulsion

My son has been in prison and smoked spice whilst he was in there.
Last year I found him convulsing on his bed and he died shortly afterwards in hospital.
He had used drugs before he went to prison and the family tried everything to help him but nothing worked. He was 24 when he died.
It was very distressing for me watching the Panorama programme and I was disgusted at the lack of respect the prisoners shown on there had.
It was like watching an out of control den of iniquity youth club and my heart went out to the prison officers who were at their wits end.
It left me speechless and seeing people disorientated on spice made me cry uncontrollably because it brought back dreadful memories. I cannot envisage our prisons reforming unless they start all over again from a blank canvas. Drugs are a massive part of society and that includes the society indoors.
I don't blame prison on my son's fate. Prison had nothing to do with my son becoming an addict because he was already one before he went inside. I did however expect some form of rehabilitation based on the Judges words in the courtroom, but it wasn't to be.
My son was convicted of 6 house burglaries and I remember clearly a small group of victims smiling and applauding when he was sentenced. My son stole items of sentimental value hence why they were pleased he was going to prison. I am embarrassed to say that their cheers and custodial well wishes made no impact on my son and he got high off spice laughing and joking with fellow inmates who got equally high and showed not a hint of remorse. I know this because he told me and I used to cry myself to sleep of a night because I knew deep down he would come home exactly the same person he was before he was sent down. Prison didn't work and prison was not effective. It was a pointless stay but justice, of a fashion, for his victims. Again I must stress that he was a drug addict and whilst there are drugs available in prison, rehabilitation is null and void.
My advice to those who smoke spice is stop. You are in great danger of premature death and this substance is a killer. It killed my son and don't you think for one minute it won't happen to you because it will. Kindest regards, Ivy.

Age appropriate activities for prisoners - by Prison Widow UK

Quite a few people have emailed in about the Panorama undercover footage concerning age-appropriate acivities at HMP Northumberland. 
Those of you who watched the documentary would have seen prisoners colouring in pictures of Peppa Pig. It isn't age appropriate, far from it, but in their defence, could it be that some of the prisoners were colouring in these pictures to send to their children? Quite possibly, so without the facts, let us not jump to conclusions that these prisoners were forced to colour in infant pictures because there wasn't anything else to do.
I've been an activities organiser and advisor for over ten years and there are plenty of safe age appropraite activities for adults/prisoners, in-cell and out! 
The reason I was in HMP Altcourse last week was to showcase some of the activities and there is a never ending stream of them, some involving absolutely no scissors, glue or potential contraband either. Granted, some activities need to be prepped which might involved cutting out circles of paper which can be done by staff and takes very little time. So what about the materials? I'll give you an example of some freebies and what prisoners use every day. Loo roll holders. Staff cut these in to strips and this is what you can make:


Loo roll holder wall art and a stick of glue or toothpaste even is all you need to create a cheap meaningful and age appropriate activity which make great gifts for families too! 

Loo roll holders cut in to strips is all a person need to create some fantastic art and it's easy to do. Put posters up in visitor's centres and ask families to bring in empty holders! 
There is absolutely no excuse for delivering non age appropriate activities for adult prisoners. If indeed colouring in pictures of Peppa Pig wasn't for the prisoners children, then it is insulting to that person to say the least! 

Alison Henderson AKA Prison Widow UK

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Britain's prison anarchy is growing - we need more staff to stop it

was fortunate to play a small role advising the makers of last night’s BBC Panorama expose of the shocking state of HMP Northumberland. As a former prison Governor, my advance view of the footage threw up conflicting emotions. I felt sorry for staff at that beleaguered establishment, so graphically unable to cope, who would have their helplessness broadcast to prisoners they would face in the morning at unlock. Prisons are predatory places – today there will be blood in the water.On the other hand public interest demands the extent of disorder, bordering on anarchy, which exists in this privately operated prison is exposed. Here was a chilling but necessary dispatch from the front line of an impoverished penal system. 

By Ian Acheson 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Panorama, Spice and my Son

Hi to all. My son is in prison and he is a drug addict. Since being in prison he has been using spice and I honestly cannot bear to watch anymore of the Panorama programme tonight. It is breaking my heart seeing what this drug is doing to people and the staff struggling is just awful. 
I had hoped that prison would sort my boy out and that he could become clean and start afresh once he was released but I know the money I send him for canteen for chocolate and whatever he needs is probably traded in or swapped for drugs. I won't sleep tonight and this should not be happening. I really feel for the staff and I fear for my boy because no doubt he will be released from prison the same as he was - a drug addict - and as a parent of a drug addict, it is horrendous. No one knows how this affects families because let's face it, no one cares about prisoners families because according to Joe public, we are all cut from the same cloth which is unfair and insulting. God please sort this whole mess out! From a worried heartbroken Mum. 

Discipline my son - from a father of a prisoner

Hi Prison Widow UK Blog. 
My name is David and my son is in HMP. 
For the sake of embarrassment, I don't wish to clarify which shambolic establishment he is serving his sentence in. My son is 26 and this isn't his first prison sentence. He is a drug user and although I have no proof he is using drugs in prison, I will bet my bottom dollar he is. I saw on the news this morning the undercover Panorama investigation filmed in HMP Northumberland. This isn't the prison my son is in by the way. I have watched footage published in various different newspapers today and I am disgusted. In 2010, Theresa May quoted that 'prison's work'.  She must have been on what some of the prisoners are sniffing in HMP Northumberland because prison does not work unless like my son, he likes it so much in there he keeps going back. He told me that it was easy in prison. He told me that it does not bother him and he told me that it's a good crack in there. Here is the best bit, he told me he would rather be in prison because I was too strict at home. I put boundaries in place in my home because he is a drug addict. He was lucky to have a roof over his head especially when he stole £2,000 from me and his Mother to buy drugs. Boundaries have to be put in to place and because he didn't like it, he prefers prison because he can get off his head without any hassle. The game is too easy for him and thousands of others no doubt. Watching the video footage of prisoners turned my stomach. It shows one prisoner threatening a guard with a metal stick of some sort because he wouldn't go in his cell when the guard asked him to. I'd have wrapped it around his bloody neck! And this is what's wrong with the system, it is too play school and it has gone too far. My son, I love him, he is my son, is not being disciplined. I expect discipline in prisons and I expect rehabilitation but the balance is not there. The Government haven't got it right because it is human rights gone too far. It is political correctness at an insane level and offenders on the in and out know exactly how to play the system. You might not agree with the comment I made about the prisoner and the metal bar, and absolutely I agree that violence is not acceptable and the system has a duty of care for our loved ones in prison, but take a step back, I would be petrified if my daughter was a prison officer and the Government has a duty to protect those who are protecting ours. Let us have it right, the Gov cannot even get society right out here so its curtains all round. 

Seventeen prison sentences - from an ex offender

Dear Prison WIdow UK. Please mark my name, Anonymous.
I am 41 and have been institutionalised for most of my life. I lived with a number of foster parents from the age from 5 and travelled through the system. 
I always kept my head down in prison and whilst serving my time got myself a good education. I have been in prison 17 times. 
Every prison sentence I served, I always had the intention of settling down and going straight, but it never happened. 
I am at present on licence and it isn't going well. I have never had a job so my CV has no work history on it. It does have 17 years of qualifications though but try explaining to an employer who is baffled why I have never worked a day in my life. Believe me I want to, but I can't get there. I feel depressed, alone and in my negative thoughts may as well go back to what I know best which is prison. I know all the prison officers at the local cat B jail and they obviously know me, but they never judge and I respect them for that. 
I have been reading a lot about prison reform and it's not going to happen. Yes the drug culture and prisoners run half of the jails in the UK and I have witnessed appalling bullying and threatening behaviour first hand. Human rights has become a law that more or less entitles some prisoners to take the pi*s. It's happening all over and they breed fear in to some prisoners such as making threats to their families on the outside etc. Yes I have taken drugs in prison in the past and yes I got a beating for owing money. It has been 6 years since I stopped using drugs. With a clear mind and focused observations, I can tell you that prison officers have their work cut out and they are in danger every time they go to work. 
Back to me, I'm not an evil person, if anything I am lost and always have been since being a youngster. Is there really a future for me here on the out I question myself. But is there really a future for our young generation the state the country is in, and boy it's messy! 
I ambled past a group of youths at weekend hanging out on the local market. I overheard one saying it was a laugh in HMP Lancaster Farm. I will wait with baited breath to see how the reform takes shape, but as far as I am concerned, they are whistling in the wind. 

HMP Forest Bank - By Prison Widow UK

Some positive news which is always good to hear! On my way home from work today, I bumped in to a lady I know whose son is currently serving a 2 year sentence in HMP Forest Bank. Her son has a mental health illness and she couldn't praise the staff enough. She said they were brilliant! When I asked her about how she found the visiting experience, as I know she was nervous, she said she is always treated with respect and the officers are great! It's what I like to hear!

Inmates have 'effectively taken over' one of Britain's biggest prisons

Inmates have effectively taken over at one of Britain's biggest prisons, an undercover investigation has found.The scale of issues facing the UK prison system was highlighted the BBC's Panorama programme following an investigation into HMP Northumberland, which is run by private firm Sodexo Justice Services.BBC reporter Joe Fenton spent two months undercover as a custody officer in the prison near Morpeth, which houses 1,348 men.

                                       VIDEO FEATURED IN THE ABOVE LINK 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Guilty by association - from ex wife of lifer

Hi. I'm Sam and I am from the North East of England. My ex husband is a lifer. 
I admire the strength of prisoners families and I understand the hurdles that come with being in this situation. Raising awareness for families of prisoners is in my opinion a hard corner to fight. To do it well you have to be outspoken. When my husband at the time was on trial, his court hearings were published in the newspaper. I knew it would be but it didn't prepare me for what was to come. I had my windows put through, dog dirt through my letterbox, fireworks through my letterbox, eggs thrown at my windows, my car scratched, the tyres on my car slashed, hate mail and abuse thrown at me in the street and the list pretty much goes on. I had to move house and to a completely different town where no one knew me and I had to start all over again. I lost my job, my home and my confidence. When I moved area, I changed my surname and started living a lie because the new friends I have made have no idea that my ex husband is in prison serving a life sentence. Imagine if my new friends knew why I had to move away from my previous town? I know people will say that true friends wouldn't judge but I don't want to risk it either way. I also don't want to talk about the past too. I have cried until no more tears were left and I have to move forward the best I can. Sometimes I feel very bitter because when he was remanded after being arrested, he was safe in prison, he didn't have to face the music. He left that to me and never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I'd ever be thrust in to a situation like this. People used to call me all names under the sun and said I was vile for marrying him. But I didn't marry the person he'd become. The crystal ball never indicated that my husband was going to commit a serious crime that would end in a life sentence. He had no previous convictions when I first met him and this was his first offence so how could I have predicted what was going to happen? But you try telling people that and you try explaining to people that his crime had absolutely nothing to do with me. 
We have a son who is in his 20's. He also had to move away with me and has changed his surname because of the situation. He too is living a lie because he has also made new friends and does not want to discuss his Father and where his Father is and why. It's too painful and he as well has to and wants to move on. He hasn't visited his Father and doesn't wish to. If one day he wants to, it would be his choice and I won't stand in his way. He has often said he wants answers but for now he is content and getting on with his life. 
I won't visit him, take his calls or write to him. That's my decision and I don't wish for any answers. If you print my email, please refer to me as anonymous and thank you for getting our stories out there to raise awareness. I wish you all the very best. 

My daughter is bullied because her dad is a drug addict

Please sign my name, Anonymous. Thanks.
My daughter is 11 and her school has just had a drugs awareness talk. During the talk, a boy from our street shouted at my daughter, "Ha ha your Dad is a smackhead"!
My daughter ran out of school and was found crying in a bus stop.
The head teacher rang me to inform me what had happened.
My daughters dad and I separated 3 years ago when he went to prison. He was convicted of armed robbery and committed this crime to buy drugs. I had been with him for 17 years and he'd had a drug problem on and off throughout. He wasn't a bad person and never ever used drugs in front of me or his daughter, but I became co dependant and after seeking support from a local drugs group for families, I stopped giving him money and the end result was a prison sentence for armed robbery. Of course the story was in the local newspaper and the hang him and flog him tyrants brigade came out in their cyber suits which made my daughter a target for bullies. The comments people left online about me and my daughter were sick and the newspaper never took those comments down. I did email the editor but it was ignored. The comments made me very ill and I wouldn't go out for weeks.
More should be done for children of prisoners/drug addicts. Sorry I am too upset to write anymore so I will finish here. Apologies if this is only half of the story.

Prison Widow Comment: It is in the public's interest to report on crime. However, what I don't agree with is innocent families being targeted by the newspaper forum mafia who might I add are indeed the perfect upstanding citizens who relish making people's life's a misery. They come across as educated individuals but don't let them fool you. They aren't educated at all because targeting innocent people and children is ignorance. I have been there myself and I forced the editor to take down the comments aimed at me and my children. He had a choice, either do it or he feels the wrath of my pen. My ex partner was in the wrong, very much so and a prison sentence is what he deserved. However, my children and I hadn't committed any crime so I made it my business to get my point across. I refused to be judged for something I didn't do and I was damned if the forum members took a pop at my children too. I am so sorry for what you and your daughter are going through and I only wish you had contacted me when you had trouble with your local newspaper.
I will send you some links of support groups for families of prisoners in your area.

How to tell my children why their Daddy has gone

Dear Prison Widow Blog 
I would like to reply to the post from a parent who is struggling very hard how to tell her daughter that her Daddy is a drug addict. I am in the same boat and my two children keep asking why their Daddy isn't coming home. My children are 9 and 6 years old.
I have no idea what to say at all because at their age they will not understand the first thing about drug addiction and how addiction effects people. But they still want answers as to why their Daddy has left us and I honestly do not know what to tell them. I feel very bitter right now and have cut all contact with my ex because I do not want him around whilst he is actively using drugs. It is not fair on the children or me. He had been clean for 2 years and doing so well until he was made redundant and the signs he was using again began to show. Money from our joint account went missing and was unaccounted for. I so agree that there isn't enough support for families going through this and it is painfully hard to cut all ties but needs must. There isn't even any support groups in my area I can attend or ask for advice. I am so angry that we aren't enough and the drugs once again has taken first priority! Thanks in advance. Yours Faithfully, Amanda. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

More awareness for children affected by parental drug addiction

My daughter is ten and her dad is a drug addict. He no longer lives with us and has never been in contact since I asked him to leave 5 months ago. This has had an emotional effect on our daughter and it is so difficult to explain to a ten year old that her Dad cannot be around until he sorts himself out. Naturally I don't want to frighten her but how do I tell her that her Dad is addicted to a drug that doesn't allow him to think straight. I am so at a loss as to how to explain things to her because even I struggle understanding and getting my head around why people choose drugs over their children and families. I had given him so many chances and it is awful to say but it is easier explaining death to a child than trying to explain the implications of heroin addiction. Please, how do you explain this to a child without hurting their feelings even more? From Anonymous Mum. 

Prison was home, the officers were the only family I had

By an ex offender in the UK 

I am 48 years old and for 18 months I have been living in my own one bedroomed council flat.
It isn't much but it is a massive achievement for me. Since the age of 19, prison was my home and the screws were my family. I had no blood family so the screws were the nearest best thing.
To cut a very long story short, I lived on the streets in the summer, and went back home, to prison, in the winter. The crimes I committed were petty ones but I made sure they were prolific enough to get me a decent stay inside. This continued for years and this (18 months) is by far the longest I have stayed out of prison. There were a couple of arsy screws but the majority were good people and as sad as this sounds, I was happy to see them. They treated me as a human being, something society didn't when I was homeless on the streets. I got battered, had the piss taken out of me by passersby and was spat at by people who thought they were a cut above the rest. Why would I not want to go back to prison? Granted it was my own choice but I had been floating through the system since I was ten years old so regime was all I knew. Prison was a safe place for me. Of course there were many times when it wasn't, but in general it was a safety net and my home.
I read a post on your blog about prison reform. I don't know where they are going to go with this but as far as I am concerned, the damage is done. I agree that you cannot reform prison's until you reform what lies outside of the walls. Remember Cameron's Big Society pledge? It never came to the front, it always remained on the back burner, well at least it did where I came from.
Moving my story on, 18 months ago I was supported by a homeless charity who I cannot thank enough. I needed counsilling and still to this day receive it and attend group meets which help me a lot. I don't have much but I have what I can call mine. Through group meets I have made friends and for the first time in my life, I don't want to go back to prison because I don't NEED to go back.
I am writing a book and would like to keep you updated. Thank you for sharing my story.

My drug addict son will not forgive me - from a Mother

Picture: Daily Mirror 
Dear Prison Widow UK. Please do publish my email and refrain from printing my surname and email address, thank you.
My son is in prison. I don't care to discuss why, but as far as I am concerned, he needs to be locked up. This is probably something you might not hear often from a parent, but something needed to give and the result was a custodial sentence. 
I can tell you though that my son is addicted to heroin, crack cocaine and sleeping pills. Please, before the righteous brigade start saying this is down to bad parenting; it is not. 
Since my son has been in prison, he has started using the synthetic cannabis, Spice. He is forever in trouble and is not using his time in prison wisely; something I thought he would do and something deep down I prayed for. I was a little naive about drugs but I have educated myself by reading up on articles and websites that offer advice and information. Months before my son was arrested, he made my life one that put me in hospital. I thought it was a heart attack but thankfully it wasn't. I was diagnosed with anxiety and perscribed beta blockers. My son stole from me, brought trouble to my door on a regular basis and my windows were put through because he owed money to a drug dealer. He came home one night with a so called friend and they had a bag full of cigarettes and other items that were clearly robbed from a store. I turned my son in because I had reached breaking point. I had broken down and that same night I was admitted to hospital and stayed there for 3 weeks. My son is fully aware that it was I who turned him in to the Police and once he had done his withdrawel in prison, he wrote me a letter saying he understood why I did it and apologised. But since he has started getting himself in to trouble whilst in prison, using drugs etc, he has now retracted his apologies and I am the worst Mother on the planet for turning her own son in. He left me with no choice but the drugs must have convinced him otherwise.
Families trying to help their loved ones with an addiction is torture. It is devastating and can have a damaging effect on one's health and mental well-being. I would not wish this on anyone and it is high time that Government did something about the dirty drugs culture that is ruining life's and killing people. I wish everyone well and send other families in this situation all my love. 

Making letters more interesting - from Vickki

Hello. I am very interested in some of your ideas to make letters more interesting. I enjoy writing to my partner and try to make my letters funny so they cheer him up.
I know what people mean when they say they can get stuck for words so anything that can make letters more interesting is a bonus. I am definitely interested! My partner has been in prison for 7 months and is released next year. Even though I speak to him on the phone every day, he says he always looks forward to getting my letters and that he tends to read them over and over again. 
Please let me know when something is available for us! From Vickki 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

HMP Altcourse - By Prison Widow UK

I would like to personally thank everyone at HMP Altcourse yesterday for welcoming me and my colleague Jen in to the prison to demonstrate some book art that would benefit both prisoners and their families. The PCO's were brilliant and they gave us some insight in to the fantastic work they do with those in custody. We don't often hear about the good stuff do we? And meeting prison officers and education professionals who actually care and want to support prisoners is a blessing. For some it's not just about the wages and yesterday I met some individuals who are genuinely very supportive people. 
My colleague and I spent nearly two hours in the prison and the visit was a success. We demonstrated safe and theraputic activites that prisoners can make in their cells or in education/activity sessions. 
There's more to come too as distraction packs and meaninful activities are currently being designed by myself and my colleagues. 


The above are just some of the examples we took along.
Thanks again to everyone at HMP Altcourse! 

Illegal substances creating 'violent and volatile' prisons

A "violent and volatile prison population" is being fuelled by better access to so-called legal highs, a union has said. Ambulance callouts to Welsh prisoners who used psychoactive substances have doubled in four years. The Prison Officers' Association's Glyn Travis said drugs and staff shortages were creating "turmoil". The Ministry of Justice said it was committed to making prisons "places of safety and reform". Figures were obtained from Cardiff, Swansea, Parc in Bridgend and Usk prisons by BBC Radio Cymru's Post Cyntaf programme. They showed psychoactive substance-related ambulance callouts doubled from 202 in 2012-13 to 406 in 2015-16.Between 1 April - 31 December last year, there were 281 callouts.

Monday, 6 February 2017

No win situation - from ex offender

Hello Prison Widow UK! I am an ex offender and the problem with prison is sheer boredom! Staff shortages are an issue but I believe this is being looked at and being sorted? We shall see! Let's get straight to the point. Apart from reading and watching TV and writing to our family and friends, there isn't a lot to do in cells. Boredom leads to drugs and drugs lead to addiction. When I was in prison, I entered HMP a non drug addict. I was released a drug addict and stupidly bought Spice on the out because the drug took me to another world in prison. Luckily I have knocked it on the head and sorted myself out. It's wrong but I get why people turn to drugs in prison. Please I am not saying this is right because it isn't. Far from it but the prison's need to sort something productive out. 
As for prison reform? Where do you want me to start? I agree with the posts on your site about drugs and society as a whole. Unless the prisons get tough and I mean mighty tough, forget reform! It's a no win situation I am sorry to say. 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

UK police ignored complaints of abuse by prison staff, say victims

At least 14 former inmates of a detention centre who reported sexual or physical abuse by prison staff soon after being released were ignored by police when they complained. The men who have made the complaints are among 1,396 former inmates, aged between 17 and 21 when they were detained, who have come forward to allege they were sexually and/or physically abused at Medomsley detention centre in Durham. An investigation into Medomsley, being carried out by Durham police and known as Operation Seabrook, is the largest single abuse inquiry in the UK. The stories you need to read, in one handy email Read more One of the victims, John McCabe, said hundreds of boys could have been spared being abused if police had acted on the complaints.The details of the number of men whose complaints to police were ignored emerged in an email to McCabe from the then head of Operation Seabrook, Det Supt Paul Goundray.

Reforming prisons - from a partner of a prisoner

Hello and Good Morning. In response to Pete G (below) I am in complete and total agreement with him regarding prison reform. My partner is back in prison (recalled) and I absolutely stand by his probation officers decision too.
My partner, like many, has a drug problem and even after a stretch on a TC wing, (therapeutic community drug free) he still couldn't, or didn't want to battle his addiction. I thought me and his daughter was enough but we wasn't.
The drugs culture and the money made selling drugs is far more powerful than any professional professing ways on how we can make prisons more effective. As long as there are drugs in prisons and underhanded dealings, both by staff and those outside, i.e. families and friends of prisoners, forget prison reform. You are losing a fighting battle. My partner has a degree and qualifications as long as his arm but he is a drug addict. No further education in prison will benefit him because he is a drug addict.
I have received umpteen letters from him stating that he will come out of prison, clean himself up and get a job. It's never happened and because he foolishly breached his licence, he is back to square one and no doubt scoring drugs in prison to escape his actions.
I think families, probation officers and professionals working inside prisons are working constantly against the tide but the tide will always win. Pete G mentions money and he is spot on. Money and how to make quick easy money is the way of the world. Sadly drug trafficking is one of the biggest money spinners and the Police will even tell you so. There is no end to it and as soon as the Police arrest a dealer, his or hers replacement are waiting just around the corner and the cycle continues.
As for my partner, I am at a loss. I'm not a drug worker and neither is his probation officer. He isn't suitable for work when he is released because he is hooked on drugs so where do we as a family unit go from here? The answer is we don't because there is nothing, and I mean nothing we can do about his addiction. His addiction lies with him and he is clearly not ready to put on the boxing gloves and fight it. Before we even start reforming prisons, we need to reform people.

Reform prisons in to what exactly? - From Pete G

Hi, my name is Pete and my son is currently serving time in HMP. 
Drugs is the name of the game and before the righteous perfect parenting brigade jump on my back - yes my son had a fantastic upbringing. He found heroin 5 years ago, he is 29, so when he succumbed to heroin, he was no longer on the baby reins. 
I won't discuss nor go in to my background but I am in the know about substance misuse, although let me point out to you that I have never used drugs nor have I sold them.
We all know that prison's are awash with drugs and we all know that mobile phones are smuggled in. The recent news is that criminals have allegedly been paying £400 for tag staff to fit loose ankle monitors. We all also know that criminals operate from inside and of course on the out. Drugs is big money, so any professional that wishes to offer me their advise on how I can cure my son is wasting their time. It is all about money and it's good money. It comes at a price for some, but try telling an ex prisoner that working in a factory for just over £200 a week is far better than making £5,000 a week. 
My nephew is 24 and he works for a local firm making small fittings for cars. 
He doesn't earn great money and once he has paid his bills, council tax and debts, he has no money left to relax and enjoy life. So he sells drugs on the side which enables him to pay for activites and a few weekends away here and there.
His wage can't fund it so he tops it up elsewhere. It's wrong, it is all wrong, but how does the Government break this cycle? Those who have been accused of taking money to fit loose electronic tags? £400 if true, is not a bad back-hander is it and again we all know that prison officers have made a few quid as well with mobile phones. Any professional can stand up and no disrespect, waffle on about the hows and ifs, but there is something far more powerful than their degrees and that is money! People have become greedy, both law abiding citizens and criminals alike. People are, pardon my french, pissed off working and trying to live scraping by on pittance wages. It is all about the money and I ask this, how is this country going to reform our prisons? Quite frankly they aren't because society is done for. It is all about making a quick buck and let us get one thing straight here, the war on drugs never even started. My son is a heroin addict and his dealer was recently busted. He got a flimsy sentence and will be back selling again when he's out. He will pick up where he left off and he has had a good run. The system, the country is one big comical sitcom. 
Before reform in prisons can work, the root of the problem must be tackled first but good luck with that because you are up against two very, very, powerful things: 1. Money 2. Drugs. Yours Sincerely, Pete G. 

We won't visit drug addict son in prison - from parents of prisoner

Dear PWUK. Our son is in prison in the UK and this is his third prison sentence. We have supported him but this time around we have refused to visit him. Enough is enough and me and my husband are NOT sending him anymore money because the money we have sent him previously was spent on drugs in prison. It is all well and good that families are encouraged to support their loved ones in prison but there is a difference between supporting a loved one and enabling them. Our son was constantly ringing us both off a prison phone and mobile phones asking for money. He was phoning us off mobiles through the night and early hours of the morning begging for money. We had been through hell and back with his demands for money, for drugs, before he was sent to prison and when he did get sent to prison the demands were worse! We have had to pay for our landline number to be changed because we cannot cope anymore. Any parent or partner of someone with a substance misuse addiction will understand that there comes a point when enough is enough. You can't fix a drug addict no matter how much support you lay on the table. My husband and I have always said to him that if and when he decides to fight his addiction, we will stand by him. Whilst he is in active addiction, the parents cash machine has now stopped working and we are no longer visiting him and taking his phone calls. 
It is like banging your head against a brick wall. We were told, oh you really should visit him because this might make him depressed and may result in him using more drugs in prison. But where's our support here? We were being telephoned by him and other prisoners in fact badgering us to send money and it was making both my husband and I ill. Where is the support for families when the prison's can't get their act together? Sorry no, if you have walked in our shoes then sure you can bleat off at us, and yes this has been a tough decision but for the sake of our own sanity and health, we have had to walk away and stop feeding our sons drug addiction. Please publish as Anonymous. Thanks. 

Curfew tags are a joke! - From a Mother of a prisoner

Hi, my son has been on an electronic tag whilst living us. They are a waste of time and the phone was going off at all hours when he was with us in the house. They are a waste of money because it did not stop him from shoplifting for drug money which is why he was put on a tag in the first place! My husband and I, although not funny in the slightest, laughed our heads off, not at our son but at the pathetic system that tagged a shoplifter when he could still shoplift during the day! It never helped us as a family because an electronic useless bit of machinery on ones ankle did not deter nor did it stop our son from using drugs.
He eventually went to prison for breaching his curfew which was inevitable in all fairness. It's a joke! From Mother of serving prisoner. 

Security firm bosses to be summoned after claims criminals paid for loose tags

Bosses of a security firm at the centre of claims workers were paid by criminals to fit loose electronic tags are to be summoned by the Justice Secretary.Capita chiefs are to be called in by Liz Truss after 14 people were arrested in connection with the claims.Staff at the firm, which is contracted to run the Government's electronic monitoring service (EMS), allegedly received £400 a time to help at least 32 offenders evade court-imposed curfews, according to The Sun.Three current and former EMS workers are among those who have been detained by the Metropolitan Police, and the Ministry of Justice says it is "urgently" investigating the claims.

Dear Prison Widow UK. I would like to voice my opinion on the recent story about tagging and criminals paying (allegedly) to fit loose tags.
We all know the system is to pot, that goes without saying and this is because the Government has allowed it to go to pot. My son is in prison serving a 5 year sentence. This will be his 2nd prison sentence by the way. No one seems to know what they doing! The prison 'reform' has never been reformed but if or when ever it does, I dread to think. In my opinion, the prison system is too soft. It does not bother my son to go to prison and he has never complained about a bad experience in there when he has served his sentences. Not that there should be a bad experience, far from it, but there is no discipline and the criminals are running rings around the system. One probation officer told me that you cannot beat the system. I disagree. The system has been beaten and has been beaten by the prisoners and criminals on our street here in the UK. I know this has been said time and time again but put some of them in the army to be taught discipline! I would rather my son be in the forces than snorting drugs in prison! Regards Kev

Friday, 3 February 2017

Creative ideas for prison letters - By Prison Widow UK

Writing letters to your loved ones in prison can get a bit tedious right? I've been there and worn the tshirt! But letters needn't be boring. 
I've lots of ideas, some romantic, some humorous and some children can create too. 
When I wrote to my OH in prison I made my letters interesting because as many families say; you get stuck for words especially when you are in touch every day with your loved one in prison. I used to do something called shape poetry. It's not neccessarily poetry; although if you can write poetry, fine; but words that mean something to you is as simple as it goes. It might look difficult? No, it's easy and ask your partner/son/daughter/friend who is in prison to return a shape letter! Draw or trace an object, a tree, love heart, or anything you want; but my tip is start simple until you get the hang of it; and use a fine pencil to draw this on a plain piece of paper. That's your template. 
Then with a pen, can be any colour/s fill in the template with words of your choice. Don't go out of the pencil lines though! 
Once you have put all your words inside of the template, gently rub out the template using a pencil eraser. You will then have a letter in the form of a shape! Children will also enjoy this activity and it's a little something different for their parent in prison to admire!
I am compiling some writing interaction packs to make letters more interesting so watch this space! Letters needn't be boring and you can have a lot of fun writing and designing them.                                

Prison Widow UK 2017

Please note that the above are examples only