“A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens, but by how it treats its criminals.” This quote, or similar, has been attributed to Dostoevsky, Ghandi and/or Churchill.
The Scottish Prison Service describes its aim as “Unlocking potential, transforming lives”
For forty years under the direction of Chaplaincy, Prison Fellowship Scotland has been treating men and women in prison with grace, love and respect, inviting them to see their lives transformed and potential realised through understanding Jesus’ Good News and committing their future to him.
This book gives us a chance to hear the voices of men and women behind bars (and their children), prison staff, and Prison Fellowship volunteers. It also allows us to hear how the HM Inspectorate of Prisons see the work of PF Scotland and happily it also lets us hear the voices of those liberated from prison with lives transformed and potential being realised, as a result of new found purpose and faith in Jesus.
Here is a small taste of what to expect:
Chapter 3, page 46. A woman’s voice
I moved into my own flat and I ended up taking heroin and Valium. My life was a mess. When I was 21, I had my youngest daughter. This was enough to cause me to rein in the drug abuse a little, as I was on methadone but I still took amphetamine and was always trying to fill the void inside of me. Things then got worse again. During this time, I would have people in my flat drinking and taking drugs to all hours of the night. Finally, when my girls were 3 and 6, they were taken into foster care. I then had no reason to even try and hold it together anymore.
The next 10 years is just a bit of a blur due to drink, drugs and abusive relationships as well as the chaos. I felt so empty, so lost. It was so bad that I cut my wrists and would burn my arms with cigarettes. I think in some way I thought that I deserved the beatings that I was getting. It wasn’t so bad but it was a regular enough occurrence. Some instances were worse than others. Finally in December 2010 I was in a flat, with two of us drinking and taking drugs, when a man got beaten to death which was, in hindsight, a certainty to happen sooner or later, given how comfortable and familiar the people around me were with violence, and how often it occurred. I was remanded for murder along with the other man. All alone isolated in a cell with no drink or drugs and the firm belief that nothing on earth could help me, I had no option but to fall on my knees and say “ … Please God help me!” I was totally willing to do things God’s way.
All alone isolated in a cell with no drink or drugs and the firm belief that nothing on earth could help me. I had no option but to fall on my knees and say, “… Please God, help me!”… I was totally willing to do things God’s way.
I started reading the Bible and going to church and praying on a daily basis. From that day to this day God has blessed me in so many wonderful ways. I am no longer in the clutches of addiction and I have gained many qualifications and skills. I have learnt to play the guitar and I enjoy playing in the church service and fellowship. I was allowed to speak at a conference at Edinburgh University, I attend gym 5 days a week and, at 43 I am fitter and healthier than I was at 21.
I even got to mend some fences with my oldest daughter who was, because of my lack of ability to care for her, full of anger and resentment, and who could blame her. My daughter actually ended up in beside me in prison, although only for a short time, but it gave us a chance to spend time together and for her to see the person that I had become. Although she did struggle, I feel we did benefit from it. At the last Prison Fellowship group before she got out, she said she decided to say something. I did not know what she would say! She said “last week we read about how Christians should be more Christ–like – patient, caring, loving, kind – well that’s just my mum”.
Be inspired to listen to the rest of her story and all the other voices from these 40 years behind bars.
You may even be inspired to Join Prison Fellowship Scotland for the years ahead!