Will my son Ryan ever be free from the revolving door of prison-release-prison-release?
Last December he was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, and sent down for (I think) his fifth stint. He duly served half his time, released on licence at the beginning of March. At this point, someone had removed everything from his boat so he had nothing (I offered to get him more bedding etc). As normal, he refused any sort of help from probation, preferring to doss down on someone’s floor but within two weeks (so mid-March), he was re-arrested and sent back to prison for shoplifting (his excuse – he hadn’t had any benefits since January). Out again at the end of March, Ryan messaged my husband last week (he can’t contact me direct anymore) to say that he’ll probably be going down again soon as he has no money. Presumably he intends to resume his favourite activity of shop-lifting. At the time of writing this, I have no idea where or how he is (and I’m worried).
My son is a drug-addicted criminal who, to all intents and purposes, is homeless……but he’s still my son and I love him. The life he leads is harming his mental and physical health but (during a call from the police station), he said he can’t see a way out (this made me want to jump in feet-first to try and save him – but I’ve been there and I know it doesn’t work).
The effect of Ryan’s choices on society are also massive. It costs £118 a day to keep someone in prison in the UK – so Ryan’s latest stint amounts to £11,564……….and counting. Add to this the amount of time (which I can’t quantify) spent by the police, the courts, and the probation service! Another issue is the reoffending rate of those serving short sentences (six months or less) – which is about 60%. The total bill must be staggering.
I’m no expert, but I can see that the system is not working for people like Ryan, or for society which is footing the bill. There has to be a better way. As far as I know, rehabilitation is only offered to prisoners who receive a term of over 12 months, so each time Ryan goes inside, nothing much is done to try and encourage him to turn his life around. When the authorities have him in their clutches, I think it should be mandatory for him to engage in workshops, counselling, drug support group discussions – anything that might awaken his psyche to the fact that there’s another, better life that could be his. This is what I want for my son – real, tangible, practical support with which he has to engage. And if he refuses, he should not be given early release from prison to simply start reoffending again.
I’m thinking about getting vocal on all of this, starting with an email to my local MP – any thoughts would be very much appreciated. You can leave a message here, or use the Contact button on this website ❤️