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Jason’s blog: My experience with prison recall

By July 1, 2024No Comments

My name is Jason Barnfather and I am an Influencing Intern at Switchback. I’m excited to share my journey with you.

I will be writing a three-part blog series on relevant issues regarding Recall, Resettlement & Employment. I will be speaking about issues such as mental health, overcrowding and transferable skills. Using my experience in the justice system I can provide valuable insights based on my firsthand account.

I am grateful for having this platform to be able to share my thoughts and get people talking about the right things. Writing this has been somewhat therapeutic for me, to reflect and gain perspective on my journey through the system. Changing perceptions is important for real change to begin.

The timing of this blog series couldn’t be any better with the general election happening and lots of talk about prison reforms. I hope to raise awareness and be heard over the crowd but most importantly to bring about positive change. Here is part 1…

Stop, start, stop, start… the ebbs and flows of my reality caught up in the justice system. Between navigating sharing a toilet with a stranger in a tiny cell, living in poorly maintained establishments, surrounded by long termers, violent offenders and a lot of people serving recall like me, amongst a vast myriad of people you wouldn’t otherwise congregate with…  

And persevering through a number of barriers before I can even be considered for a decent job, like the looming likelihood of being made homeless after a short stay at a halfway hostel, the sky-high cost of living, and high costs of travel in London which leads to staying indoors in isolation – another hindrance especially while I try to reintegrate back into society as seamlessly as possible. 

This is challenging enough for the most capable of people and tougher still when you include the mental health struggles that plays a significant role in the lives of men caught in the revolving doors of His Majesty’s Prisons. Nobody is speaking out about the effects that being locked up is having on our mental health and poor mental health often seems normal. In prison seeking therapy or help can be taboo, it would be beneficial to create a psychologically safe environment. 

The cycle is being repeated in 2023 almost 50,000 people were released from prison. As 80% of all crime committed in the UK are re-offences. To me this is overwhelming proof that the justice system is falling short in providing an opportunity for people with criminal convictions to live life differently.

Recently our government has spoken about issues surrounding the state of prisons. I would like to hear dialogue addressing resettlement as a national issue and plans to implement effective rehabilitation schemes rather than a ‘cracking down’ or a ‘show no mercy’ approach, which is an uncomfortable narrative that I have witnessed grow in absurdity during the lead up to this overcrowding and reoffending crisis. 

Preventing re-offending and recall rates from continuing to rise is crucial to the success of our next government. We need to focus resources and efforts into Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Mentoring which are proven ways to reduce reoffending: 91% of men who engage with Switchback mentoring and support do not reoffend within the first year as opposed to around half of men leaving prison without external support reoffending within 12 months of release. 

Probation officers are stretched thin with the number of cases they’re expected to manage, this results in people unintentionally slipping through the net and missing out on needed support or being hastily recalled contrary to the goals of Probation. 

After leaving prison I hadn’t identified my issues, I felt even more anxious, I didn’t see myself fitting into society. I felt alienated and started drifting back into old behaviours and habits that lead me to prison in the first place. I made another mistake. Recalled.  

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