MENTORING IN PRISON

Such a lot being wasted, fantastic resource available at no cost which could have significant effects on re-offending etc..
Such a simple idea too, would need careful management but what results could be possible.
I am still in touch with a guy I mentored in 1991. He got in touch when he saw my new (at the time) Twitter account to tell me he had managed to stay out of trouble and all is well in his life and thanking me for my help in guiding him to sorting himself out.
Prisoners should be helped and encouraged to mentor fellow prisoners whilst inside, such a simple idea but with fantastic potential.
Obviously would need to be carefully managed but that is hardly rocket science.
Attitudes must change with regard to offenders and ex offenders using their experience to help and mentor others in the same situation.
In 1996 on leaving prison I started a voluntary group helping other ex offenders. I had lots of encouragment from individuals and some churches and in particular the Salvation Army at local level.
The problem I had was with the probation service and NACRO who did everything they could to prevent me operating. The Probation Service madethe fcomment in the local press that what I was doing wasn’t needed and that they were quite capable of providing the necessar service. Plus and I found this astonishing, a probation supported NACRO scheme actually stated that I had ‘stolen’ some of their best clients. The mind boggles!!!

MORE PRISON PROBLEMS

Reported today that specialists have been sent into Brinsford and Oakwood to try and solve problems there, problems which incidentally Chris Grayling says dont exist.
One day someone will wake up and realise it isn’t specialists that are needed but a total change in attitudes. Things will only improve when we go back to the days when all prisons were in the public sector and when there were small local manageable prisons staffed by highly trained officers familiar with their locality and its offenders.
Prison factories don’t work. The only people they benefit are the shareholders of the private companies who run them using staff who receive the minimum of training and are paid at rates fara below those in the public sector.
We are all at fault, we all look down on prisoners and more importantly we pigeon hole them rather than treating them as individuals. Prisoners are people not just numbers.

BACK AGAIN

Sorry I haven’t been very active. I have been suffering from a serious illness and have’t had the energy to do blogs. Almost back to normal though now so get ready for more to come.
My book is due out this month so there will be plenty about that and also Chris Grayling and his minions don’t seem to have learned anything and still continueto manage this ‘invisible’ criis in the prison system. I don’t suppose they will ever learn. Whilever profits are prioritised over people nothing will change.
It’s a real shame that ex offenders aren’t invited to give input to any debate about the penal sysem. A great deal could be learned.
Hopefully shortly I plan to do a lengthy blog about how Christianity and Christians could have a truly positive effect on the whole penal system, it wouldn’t be hard. The Christian Community could do so much good in societ generally but so many members of the family seem so intent on keeping their Christianity to their own small group of friends that it sometimes surprises me that we make any progres.
THere, my little whinge for today. Will chat again very soon.
Go in peace, go in joy, go in love.

SHORT EXTRACT FROM MY NEW BOOK LIFE OF SENTENCES, OUT NEXT MONTH

Alan had actually approached meto ask if I might be interested in becoming the Chapel Orderly in the prison chapel.I was undecided at first but having taken counsel from a couple of prison officers I’d accepted the job, pointing out that although I had a strong personal faith I was in now way a Christian.
I actually started the job on 4th November and was very quickly impressed by the warmth of the chaplaincy team. The more I got into the job the more I felt I was part of a team doing a very important job.I also found myself very impressed by the warmth and obvious happiness of the many Christian visitors who attended the chapel from the outside community and their apparent sincerity.
But then the doors opened, not the cell doors but the doors f my mind. There was no blinding flash of light, no fanfare of trumpets, no vision of angels or anything like that. I simply lounged on my bed and I heard myself talking to the Boss, that’s what I called my God until then, and to be honest still do sometimes.I heard myself saying “okay, I’m not going to fight any longer. I am yours, from this point I give myself totally to you and from now on I am going to trust you completely. I’m in your hands, use me.”
And that was it, almost immediatly I experienced such an overpowering feeling of love and peace, so much power that I could feel it radiating deep from my inner self engulfing me totally. I have no doubt whatsoever that the power of the Holy Spirit was ll pervading. My command of the English language isn’t sufficient for me to actually describethe feeling I experienced, perhaps the nearest i could come to iti to saythat it felt as if a warm, luxuriant air ws flowing through every part of my body. I didn’t just tingle, I buzzed!

PRISON SUICIDES

We are constantly bombarded with the statisics for prison suicides and rightly so.
However a constant stream of statistics really doesn’t achieve anything. Yes, we need to know but we would be much better off trying to have some positive effect in bringing the numbers down. I have worked in the past for some time as a Listener so have first hand knowledge of suicides in prison.Full details will be found in my new book A LIFE OF SENTENCES due out later this year.
To summarise it is wrong to blame the prison system per se for what is happening. Of course in individual cases there may have been failings and negligence but it is totally nonsensical to blame the system. It seems to me that too many individual and organisations do nothing but criticise, much of the time for criticism sake. What we all need to do is work together to come up with positive ideas to address the problem.
We all know there is a great deal wrong with the prison system as it is today but we won’t achieve anything by constantly making negative comments about it.
There are things that can be doe but it will take strong campaigning and action not constantly trying to score semi political points by being the media face of prison change.

NO PRISON FOR DRUGS POSSESSION

Nick (Mr U turn) Clegg has announced in the Lib Dem manifesto that drug users shouldn’t be imprisoned for drugs possession. So what’s new, ah, an election just around he corner, time to promote unpopular policies in the hope of scoring headlines which equal extra political points!!
That apart though it is very much about time that the law was changed to ensure that those convicted of possessing drugs, even class A, for their own use should not be imprisoned rather given treatment for their addiction. After all people have never been sent to prison for being drunk.
The problem though is that very few prison sentences are actually given for possession alone. It is usually the case that offences are committed whilst under the influence (of either drink or drugs) and if imprisonment is justified for those offences theaddiction, whilst it clearly should be taken as a mitigating factor, should never be allowed to be used as an excuse.
The broad principle is right but before implementation there has to be a great deal of research and management.
We must always remember too that apart from in very rare cases no one is forced to take drugs. That is a choice they have made and they have to have some responsibility for that deciision.

SOCIAL IMPACT BONDS

I s any more proof needed that government are more interested in profits than people than the use of so called impact bonds within the prisons private sector?
Already these have ben proven to be failing beyond any reasonable expectations. Once again the only answer is to de-privatise but of course that would affect the profitsof tory supporting contarctors.

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