Reggie has just been sentenced to three years on a charge of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving. He was not expecting custody, and it is his first time in prison. None of his immediate family, including his mother or father, know he is in trouble.
Reggie has been told he can make phone calls to family and friends, but all the numbers are on his phone which was used in evidence by the police at his trial and so he does not have it. He decides to write to his dad.
A few days later he receives a reply.
It is very important when people are in prison that they try and stay in touch with people on the outside who care about them, especially family members or close friends. The better they can do this, the more likely it is they will be able to pick up those relationships and friendships when they get out, and their chances of returning to prison are much reduced.
If you want write to someone in prison, make sure you have their prison number and the address of the prison they are in. This way, letters should always get to them, even if they are moved to another prison. There is no limit to the number of letters you can send them, but they may be limited in the number they can send out. Remand prisoners are entitled to two free letters per week, sentenced prisoners to one free letter a week. They can buy extra letters if they have the funds to do so.
NB Letters to and from prison will be checked by prison staff.
At HMP Hewell, prisoners have access to a telephone in their cells. However, these are ‘outgoing calls only’. Upon arrival in prison, individuals should receive a £2 PIN (phone credit) and an opportunity to give two priority numbers. IF they have sufficient funds, they can apply for a one off £30 spend via a general app. This application MUST be made within their first 14 days of sentence otherwise the opportunity will lapse. In addition, during the pandemic, there is a free additional £5 phone credit for each prisoner every week.
Reggie calls his dad.
Accept the shock of imprisonment. Your family member is doing time now, even if they are unsentenced. Remember too that you are also doing that time with them. You might not be in prison with them, but you will have to adjust to the fact that they are not outside with you. In many cases you may need to make big adjustments in your life to cope with this. If your family member has done time before, bear in mind that prison is different during a pandemic.
If they have issues with debt/contracts/rent etc on the out, suggest to them that they talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in prison and/or to someone in the Resettlement Team. They can help in freezing any debts (assuming of course they are with legitimate lenders).
Purple Visits: The prison operates a video link system called Purple Visits. This allows a 30 minute Skype/Facetime type video call, once a month. To find out more go to https://www.purplevisits.com/
Personal Clothing – The 28 Day Parcel: You can send a number of your family member’s own personal items of clothing into the prison, but they must apply in prison for this privilege within 28 days of going into prison. They will need to check the rules for what clothes are allowed as these can change.
Following the phonecall with his Dad, Reggie wrote him a letter.
Reggie calls his dad.
If you family member runs out of phone credit, and they are concerned about you, others in your family, or a friend, they may be able to get a member of staff (including the staff in the Chaplaincy) to make a ‘welfare call’. Remember, this is a call those staff will make on their behalf and will not involve them talking on the phone. This option should only be used in emergencies
If they can’t make a call, they can always write a letter or use the Email a Prisoner scheme (https://www.emailaprisoner.com/) There is a cost for Email a Prisoner which is incurred by the person on the outside.
Reggie calls his dad.
HMP Hewell runs a Listener scheme. Listeners are prisoners who have been trained by the Samaritans to support others when they are having difficulties. They also have access to a special number for the Samaritans.
If a Listener is not available they can always call the Samaritans. They will have the number for this in their phone compact which they get during induction.
If you are concerned about the welfare of your family member you can call the HMP Hewell Safer Custody Hotline on 01527 785062 (from 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday only). You may be asked to leave a voicemail.
Please make sure you include:
•The reason that you are calling.
•The name of your family member/friend (and their prison number if you know it).
•Your telephone number (so that the prison can call you back).
Please wait at least 24 hours for a call back before contacting the prison again.