Yet to be written!! (thanks Grace)

 

Onwards and upwards though, I am giving myself this weekend to wallow in whatever self pitying bullshit I can possibly muster, then tomorrow the battle shall commence once again.

Above is the last paragraph I wrote in my previous blog Silent fight, The day battle commenced was Monday 20th, two days ago. It is incredible what a change of mindset actually produces, of course I have no chance of proving that things still would have happened were I still in a negative frame of mind, however, I can’t disprove it wasn’t due to my positive attitude. On the Monday I had a wonderful conversation with the professor of literature, creative writing and drama at the University of East Anglia in regards to my upcoming invitation to be guest speaker at a seminar at the university on the 28th of this month.

Then on Tuesday I had a fantastic conversation with someone in respect of setting my own company, called DRB support, and creating my own mobile phone network. We are also hoping, in January, to be providing six prisoners, being released from prison, a smart phone and a prepaid sim card, the sim card will be free of charge for six months, this will give them unlimited calls and texts along with 5GB data. I am hoping it will keep them connected and stop them reoffending, there is a lot more to it but those are the basics. DRB support has been one of my goals and it now has a real future rather than being on paper.

Then today, wow what an incredible day. I had a meeting with a headmaster (John). John is head of a school for kids with behavioural issues, and I have to say on what I saw today, that they John and his staff do an amazing job. I have created a workshop that I am hoping will put kids off of going down the wrong way. It’s as if today was always going to happen at some stage if I kept pushing. I now have an opportunity to be the influence that inspires kids to take the right path in life, or even be prepared for the wrong path if that is what they choose but I am sure it won’t come to that. I am so excited at this opportunity. I have never forgotten my life at that age, nor have I forgotten what it’s like to be a child, something I feel a lot of adults are guilty of.

You never know when life can turn, it’s being ready for the opportunity that leads to achieving it.

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Silent fight

Therefore can someone please explain to me why I am on the floor

It’s been quite a rough time lately, hence why not blogged for a while. I have so much going on in my life that is good I almost feel guilty. I am actually in danger of being in receipt of everything that I have been working towards and yet this is my lowest point since being released from prison. Mental health is a funny thing, there you are rolling along nicely with no problems, well none that can’t be overcome easily, and bang back on the floor. I also hate talking to people about it, I feel as if I’m demanding attention and therefore keep most things to myself. However, I am getting better at sharing, yet again though in doing so it makes me feel vulnerable and I end up shutting myself off.

I believe this latest episode stems from an assessment I had recently regarding my mental health, it opened up old wounds, which is my argument here, it seems whenever I access services I find myself having to go over the reasons for my mental health, which I understand is needed but doesn’t do any good for my mental health, you have to go over things in detail so many times it’s impossible for it not to leave you jaded. Then the reviews just stop, leaving you in limbo. I am fortunate that I have an incredible support team behind me (thank you Grace and Donna). It feels me with dread wondering in what state I would be in without this support, yet there are thousands out there fighting the system by themselves with no support.

I have some amazing things coming up in relation to my journey, I am due to speak as guest speaker on prison related issues at a University, I have a meeting booked with a headmaster at a local school in the hope to create a workshop for schools relating to prison and parents in prison. DRB support, my own company I wish to create, is coming to fruition with some exciting developments, I am even in talks to set up my own mobile phone network. The mobile phone app that I have been working on is very close to getting to market. So much more as well that I am yet unable to confirm. Therefore can someone please explain to me why I am on the floor. It doesn’t make sense, but then mental health doesn’t make sense.

Onwards and upwards though, I am giving myself this weekend to wallow in whatever self pitying bullshit I can possibly muster, then tomorrow the battle shall commence once again.

Prison – Soft option?

Prison is harsh

I was thinking today that some people reading this blog may think that I am, in some way, glorifying prison. I can assure people I am not. Prison is harsh, I do not expect any sympathy for that comment and rightly so. I would like to point out at this stage, unlike what the Daily Mail, that prison is not full of only murderers, rapists, terrorists and paedophiles. There are a hell of a lot of people in prison that do not deserve to be there, either due to their mental health or because of short sentences, sentences that would be better off served as a community punishment. In fact The Prison Reform Trust  published figures showing that 94% of a 1,000 people polled said that people who commit theft or vandalism should do unpaid community work as part of their sentence. Court ordered community sentences are more effective by 8.3% at reducing one-year proven re-offending rates than custodial sentences of less than 12 months for similar offenders. (The Prison Reform Trust, 2013)

Lets dispel a few miffs, dropping the soap in the shower is not a prison past time, we don’t all have Sky TV, you may have heard about prisoners having Ipads, for one they are not Ipads, and they are used for the benefit of the prison. They are used to fill out weekly food menus, applications, canteen forms and pin phone credit, these provisions would usually be undertaken by staff. Most guys in jail want the opportunity to turn their lives around and a lot of the disturbances are because of that reason, they blame spice though, you may find this hard to believe but in some jails at the moment it is easier to get spice than it is a toilet roll, bad enough you have to take a shit in front of a stranger in a 12 by 8 room with no privacy save your pad mate closing his eyes (and nostrils). Yeah its an issue in jail but drugs have been an issue in jail for as long as I can remember.

Even the situation with prisoner’s right to vote, when you are sent to prison you lose your civil liberty not your civil right and voting is a civil right. However, lets look at this closely, the prison population in the UK is 86,185 as of 3/11/2017, if you take off all those that are not eligible to vote and those that won’t or don’t want to vote, considering the turnout for the General Election earlier in the year was only 68.7% or just under 49 million, you can start to get a clearer picture of the actual numbers we are talking about. I would hazard an educated guess around 20-25,000 would vote, bearing in mind that’s split around all the different areas of the UK, personally can’t see what difference it makes anyway. What it does do however is provide the ministry of justice with another smoke screen hiding what is failing in our prisons.

We need prisons, I deserved to go to prison, not once have I gone to prison for something I didn’t do. However, we need prisons that are fit for purpose, that are providing people with opportunities to turn their lives around, provide real employment opportunities but most important make sure that people have got accommodation on release, those are the real issues. The following is from a report by the Prison Reform Trust:

Six in 10 women do not have homes to go to on release from prison.

Home truths: housing for women in the criminal justice system, says that the failure to solve a chronic shortage of suitable housing options for women who offend leads to more crime, more victims and more unnecessary and expensive imprisonment.

6,700 women were released from prison in England and Wales in the year to March 2016.

Without stable housing, it is harder for women to engage in employment and training, access support services, re-establish contact with children and families, and integrate successfully into the community. Inadequate provision of appropriate and safe accommodation increases the risk of re-offending.

It’s just as bad for men as well.

For far too long the public have been duped, by the government, the ministry of justice and the media. They have conspired in the propaganda that surrounds our prison system to hide the fact that they are failing, you, the public in protecting you. People have been committing crime since day dot and will continue to do so, it’s the re-offending rates that need to be questioned. In 1993 the prison population was 44,246 by 2013 it had nearly doubled to over 86,000, I know the population of the UK didn’t double in that time.

We have to, as a society, work together to get our prison numbers down. To do this instead of reading or listening to the propaganda, question it!!!

Next stop Hollywood lol!!

I am starting to get the platform I need to create a social movement for real change to the criminal justice system and Mental Health. Watch this space!!!!!!!!

hollywood

Be of Good Behaviour Just a short post today, what you mean, thank god for that?, anyway the above link will take you to the facebook page dedicated to the documentary that I am involved in, you will find a link to a two minute trailer. This trailer will get it’s first airing on the 7th November at the launch of an independent film entitled Injustice.

I am starting to get the platform I need to create a social movement for real change to the criminal justice system and Mental Health. Watch this space!!!!!!!!

Should not have happened!!!

They say that lessons will be learned, this was the end of 2008.

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After posting my good friends story earlier it has made me want to share another sad story that I briefly mentioned in A darker side of life!!!, I should point out that in normal circumstances I would not be able to share such a story and nor would I. However, in this case, the caller, whom I shall call MD, released the listeners from the confidentiality agreement the Samaritans because he was quite vulnerable and occasionally we needed staff intervention. A problem had arose where MD was being bullied, forced to snort subutex, plus his wife was having pressure put on her to bring in a parcel of drugs that MD was to accept on a visit from his wife and he was on an ACCT.

It had been arranged for MD to be located on the induction wing which kept him out of harms way, just before Christmas I had helped someone carry their prop back to the induction wing, I was working in reception at the time. (Until a close mate grassed me up for selling mobile phones and chargers but that’s another story, and nothing was proven so it’s one that will have to wait till I’ve finished my licence lol). I could see MD was stressed and he told me they were moving back to wing he was on where the trouble had been, the guys involved went to court, got locked out and ended up at another jail. I had a quiet word with a screw to find out what the fuck they were thinking, they sorted out, he stayed where he was. Then, a few days later, Christmas Eve, I saw MD in the centre between wings, they had moved him a few days after I saw him. He started to use the listeners on quite a regular basis, this consisted of just two of us. A few days after Christmas his wife had told him that she can’t carry on no more and hates the prison so won’t be bringing up their baby daughter. He was distraught, my colleague and I took it in turns through-out the day and night, it was a Saturday, an officer then went to my colleagues door about 1.30 am and said MD is asking for a listener again but the officer told him no he can now make do with the Samaritans phone.

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My colleague also worked in the kitchens and on Sunday morning he was unlocked at just after 7am, within moments he was back saying Dave you ain’t going to believe this MD is dead, he hung himself in his cell. We were fucking fuming, myself especially after the incident I also mention in A darker side of life!!!. Following a death in custody there is of course an investigation, carried out by the prisons and probation ombudsman. My colleague and I would be spoken to by a representative. Now!, I cannot confirm if this was true as I only had my colleagues word to go on, he told me that he was approached by a governor, it was put to him that if he were to say to the ombudsman that when he last left MD, he was in good spirits and positive, to which his reward would be a D cat.

Before I was seen by the ombudsman, I had attended a safer custody meeting where it was disclosed that on the night it happened they had 36 ACCT’s to check on, MD was one that did not have the required amount of visits through the night and his document was incorrect. To add to this a neighbour of MD’s had told me that it was around 2.30am that he thought he heard a loud crash in MD’s cell, MD was found at just before 6.30am, he was down to be checked every 10 minutes. At the subsequent inquest a year later and in part due to my speaking out, an open verdict was returned.

They say that lessons will be learned, this was the end of 2008, in April 2017 in the prison I was serving, during a two week period there were four self-inflicted deaths. Until we start to hold Governors criminally responsible for suicides, that could’ve been prevented, things will never change.

Samaritans info

Death – sentence??

I am a 52 year old man who for many years self-medicated my depression with alcohol. Historically at times of extreme emotional turmoil such as the break up of a meaningful relationship could become even suicidal.

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A close friend of mine basically received a 3 year prison sentence for attempting to take his own life after being discharged from a mental health hospital. He is now in a battle with the probation service who have taken it upon themselves to ignore children’s services and a psychiatric report, two expert analysis’s, but no!, the opinion of one probation officer based on who knows seems to carry the more weight. I wanted to share his story with you but rather than I put it in my words I asked my friend to write it in his own words. The following is an unedited version of his story:

I am a 52 year old man who for many years self-medicated my depression with alcohol. Historically at times of extreme emotional turmoil such as the break up of a meaningful relationship could become even suicidal.

In December 2015 during one of these periods attempted to end my life several times, including an overdose that ended in intensive care cutting, and attempted drowning for which I was admitted to the local mental hospital, this culminated in me driving my car home setting light to a camping stove on the passenger seat and waiting for the smoke to kill me. The heat was so intense and I did get out suffering burns to my head and face. At no point did I consider the consequences of my actions or intend to cause any harm to anyone else.

I had just been discharged from the local mental hospital diagnosed with a personality disorder and at further risk of suicidal attempts, with no where to go on Christmas eve.

I was subsequently arrested at the scene and taken into police custody. The police were adamant I should go to hospital but once in magistrates court was remanded into custody.

Once in prison the mental health care really kicked in, I was able to access firstly the emergency care needed.

I never denied what I had done and was eventually sentenced following 2 psychiatric reports to 3 years in prison. I was assessed as not posing a danger to the public or staff or children by a forensic psychiatrist.

While serving my time I engaged in all the mental health treatment available Including CBT, services that were not made available to me in hospital or the community, I became a Samaritans trained listener to help other troubled prisoners and a St Giles peer advisor aiding the resettlement of others.

Following an assessment from children’s services made contact again with my son and occasionally my daughter who understandably was still very angry with me. I always accepted both of my children’s view points.

I was also considered suitable for D cat prison at first review which in its self is unusual for the offence I was convicted of.

At the halfway point of the sentence was released on licence and this is where the situation deteriorated. Prior to this I met with my offender manager in the community. From the outset he came across as not caring about my current situation or welfare rather I would do as you are told type of attitude.

He wanted to approved premises in Ipswich despite issues around my mental health that would have been difficult to overcome, advice from my therapist, and prison probation. Each time someone tried to contact him on the subject he was often unavailable. Finally about 2 weeks prior to release I was allowed to stay in Norwich approved premises.

I was informed I could access support from here. Truth is the only support I had or was offered was that which I had put into place prior to leaving prison. I was regularly drug and alcohol tested all of which were proven to show I had indeed stopped my use of alcohol. In fact have not considered a return to alcohol at all.

After about three weeks was accepted into a supported living environment, Called my offender manager to inform him to be told we are not ready for this yet. Was desperately disappointed returned to the approved premisses to voice my concerns. To my surprise the staff there agreed with me that it would be far more beneficial for me to be there rather than with them, one even admitted they could not understand after reading my case thoroughly why I was placed in approved premises.

A week later decision was changed and I now reside in this place. The staff here have supported me in a way that far exceeded any previous support.

My offender manager decided I could not have contact with my children until he had another report from children’s services, his request was returned stating no further report was required they were happy for the children’s mother and I to manage it going forward. Despite this and the psychiatric report still have on my licence conditions “ not to have unsupervised contact with children under 16”. At this point was allowed supervised contact with my son.

Latter my daughter indicated that I could start to get a little closer to her in suggestions that I could do things that would mean I would be in the same vicinity as her. This I reported to my offender manager along with the fact she had suffered a panic attack.

She then attended school and was taken to the doctors stating she was having suicidal thoughts. I requested to be able to see her as I had been informed she wanted to see me. Speaking to the duty manager as my offender manager was unavailable she called her mother and spoke to my daughter who stated she was desperate to see me, I was allowed to see her. Later she had a psychiatric appointment and she asked if I could go. I informed my offender manager who in my opinion looked for reasons not to grant this as asked the children’s mother why it was important for me to go. He did however grant this. However he will now not grant me further access to her even in a supervised environment despite an escalation of her mental health state, and physical well being until such time as he can get a report from my daughters support worker. I have pointed out that one phone call to my daughters mother and my daughter would resolve this to be told that’s not my job, this I have been informed that since she has suffered physical and mental injury could be considered negligence.

Just one further point to note my current risk assessment is one that was completed at the time of my offence nearly 2 years ago. Despite the evidence in the psychiatric report and the fact children’s services have stated they are happy us to manage contact, my offender manager just states he has chosen to disagree.

I have despite the emotional challenges to my family and myself followed all licence conditions however unfair and disproportionate they may feel and will continue to do so.

Through my eyes.

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If you have read my about page (if not, why not? lol), you will see that I mentioned I had gone back to prison on purpose. One of the riskiest decisions I had ever taken. To be sent back to prison for a few weeks or months would’ve served no purpose whatsoever. To sort myself and my life out I needed at least 2-3 years behind the door. I therefore needed to commit a fairly serious level crime.

I was homeless at the time, actually street homeless, I was sleeping in the porch way of a church here in Norwich. I had also lost everything that was important to me. I had led a very selfish and irresponsible life and yeah I probably deserved to be in the position I was. I may not have thought that I would eventually end up on the streets but my behaviour, the risks and decisions I took along with the lifestyle I was living all conspired to fully put me on my arse. I have no one else to blame for this except myself. Yes!, I have a history of mental health and some low points in my life but ultimately we are responsible for the decisions we make. Before anyone thinks “why didn’t you ask for help?”, believe me I did. I had gone to see the council, they accepted me under the homeless legislation, however, because of my long history of violence and after a risk assessment, I was considered unsuitable for temporary accommodation, the council informed me it could take 3 weeks while they investigated further my claim. I was then referred on to a homeless agency who saw me straight away, their properties were full and to start the ball rolling they would need to see me on three separate nights sleeping rough to confirm I was homeless.

A few days later I was at a flat owned by someone I had been introduced to, I was asked if I would basically look after the door at a location where drugs were being sold. I was smoking heroin and crack myself at the time, so the offer of free drugs was too hard to turn down. I had become dissociated from reality, I was nothing and felt nothing. We had a quiet night and there were three of us smoking through the night, the flat owner, myself and a bloke I will call H. We were sharing a few prison stories and it hit me, what the fuck am I doing, this life ain’t me, drugs had hardly ever been an issue in my life, save a few recreational drugs through the nineties. Prison could be my way out, but how?

It was around six in the morning and H was in a bad way, he was ill and needed help. None of us had the money to get anything. Without incriminating myself, I could always turn to a bit of handy work should the need arise. It was then that I started to draw up my plan, a very risky plan because I would’ve ended up with a life sentence if I didn’t do it right. I had decided to rob a local newsagent at knife point, please know that I still feel bad about what I did, it wasn’t the shop owners fault he became a victim, I did write a letter of apology after I was sentenced to him explaining that at the moment in time he wasn’t an anybody, he was an object, an obstacle. I also knew that I was going to allow myself to be caught after I had given H whatever money I gained.

I needed to be caught in a way that provided reasonable doubt to it being me that committed the crime. I followed through with the robbery, got back to H gave him the money, changed my clothes and was heading back out, H said to me “where the hell you going” and couldn’t believe my answer. It went better than expected, I was arrested very close to the crime, this included armed officers, a lot of loud chaos, that would leave witnesses unsure as to whether I was the man who committed the robbery or the person they saw being arrested, this was important. At the subsequent interview I gave a prepared statement and refused to answer questions put to me, a while later I was charged, next day put in front of a virtual court and remanded in custody. I, like I would advise anyone to do, who knows they will be going crown, was waiting for the disclosure to come through to see exactly what I was dealing with. There appeared to be some confusion over the ID parade’s, there were 4 prime witnesses, two picked me out and two including the shop keeper wasn’t sure, reasonable doubt!!

This is when the games started, it was at the pleas and directions hearing, on a Monday, that I made it aware I would be prepared to plead guilty (no pleas put in at this stage) on the basis I get sentenced there and then without the judge requesting reports. It is usual practice, though not with all defendants, for a judge to request what’s known as a pre-sentence report (PSR) from probation. However, if you have a history of violence the judge can also request what is known as  The ‘Dangerousness’ Provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, this provision gives the judge considerable discretion when it comes to sentencing, this opened the door to a possible discretionary life sentence: there are a number of crimes for which the maximum sentence for the offence, such as rape or robbery, is life imprisonment. This does not mean that all or most offenders convicted of those offences will get life. Parliament has made provisions that deal with how offenders who are considered dangerous or who are convicted of a second very serious offence may be sentenced to imprisonment for life or what is known as an extended sentence: An extended sentence may be given to an offender aged 18 or over when

  • the offender is guilty of a specified violent or sexual offence;
  • the court assesses the offender as a significant risk to the public of committing further specified offences;
  • a sentence of imprisonment for life is not available or justified; and
  • the offender has a previous conviction for an offence listed in schedule 15B to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 or the current offence justifies an appropriate custodial term of at least four years.

These sentences were introduced to provide extra protection to the public in certain types of cases where the court has found that the offender is dangerous and an extended licence period is required to protect the public from risk of harm. The judge decides how long the offender should stay in prison and also fixes the extended licence period up to a maximum of eight years. The offender will either be entitled to automatic release at the two-thirds point of the custodial sentence or be entitled to apply for parole at that point. If parole is refused the offender will be released at the expiry of the prison term. Following release, the offender will be subject to the licence where he will remain under the supervision of the National Offender Management Service until the expiry of the extended period. The combined total of the prison term and extension period cannot be more than the maximum sentence for the offence committed.

The prosecutor and judge accepted the terms of my guilty plea, however, they adjourned for sentencing. I went back a few weeks later for sentencing, the judge said that he appreciates that I went guilty as he has seen the evidence and he would not have been confident of a jury finding me guilty, he appreciated the fact that I did not want to put the witnesses through any more stress, he then went on to sentencing, he told me that the starting point would normally be 7 years, however, because I went guilty he gave me 5 years which I was happy with, perfect, but then he added, because I went guilty when I did I am entitled to a 25% discount, therefore ending up with 3 years 9 months, slightly shorter than I wanted.

These events are what took place, I can only publish my story, I can’t make anyone believe me. On a more important aspect I would like to say, I have not tried to glorify the events nor be inconsiderate of the feelings of the victim or whoever witnessed it, I have written as fact.