System failure - from Janine


Dear Prison Widow UK. 

First and foremost; a big hat-tip to you for providing such an interesting platform for families and prisoners. 

I am a regular reader of your blog and today I have felt an overwhelming sadness.
What on earth is happening to our prison's? I read about riots; children who are separated from their parents; addictions continued in prison and former prisoners complaining about what time inside is like. 

I have never been in prison but my father has. He died of a drugs overdose in 2014 and had been an addict since I can remember. I wasn't enough for him to stop the heroin. His drugs were his priority and they came before anyone and anything else. 
My mother took me to visit him when he served his many prison sentences and when I reached the age of 15; I stopped going because I had nothing to say to him. The visit room was rowdy, impersonal and completely not private. Other prisoners and families could hear our conversations and we theirs so I mainly sat in silence and listened to what my mother and father had to say. 
Small children skipped around the visiting room; some shouting, some screaming and some crying. 
The noise was sometimes unbearable and I felt detached from my father even though allegedly prison visits are put in to place to strengthen family ties. For me it was an absolute train-wreck and I resented my father for being there. 

I'm now 27 and have a small family of my own. The thought of leaving them to spend time in prison gives me goosebumps and I question why my father mustn't have felt the same. He had been using drugs and serving prison sentences on and off since I was 5 years old. 

Last year my cousin was sent to prison and I visit him once a month. Nothing much as changed. Small children still jump and skip around the room and I smile because that once was me as a young girl taken there to visit her father. But how is that strengthening ties? How? 

The system is failing; I will correct myself; it has already failed and I fear the worst. I fear for the prisoners; the prison officers and the families. What changes need to be made and drastically made?

Kindest Regards

Janine