First Time Inside has always been viewed as or even dreamed of, by ourselves, as simply the first step on a road that would lead to a discussion not only on the compassion gap that exists in the Scottish Justice system but also about the creation of a prehabilitative pathway in Scottish Justice.

These past few months have been something of a fact finding mission for us, almost market research if you like, where we set out to gauge not only the need for such a service or discussion but whether or not we could play a small part in that journey. The level of engagement, encouragement and positivity have all combined to convince us that there is a role to be played.

The initial thought that nobody should go to prison without preparation or an adequate opportunity to prepare remains a constant and we aim to ensure that need never happen again to anyone in Scotland moving forward. Building that into an environment focussed on Prehabilitation, from early intervention to Diversion and ultimately linking to rehabilitation and reintegration is our envisioned panacea.

During the month of August we hope to advance this discussion and look forward to sharing some of the additional online and offline services we are looking to initiate soon.

On the day where our Twitter account breaks through the 500 follower barrier, now let’s aim for 1000, and our levels of engagement grow across the board we have included another excerpt from a prisoners diary focussing on mental challenges faced, perhaps not for reading pleasure but more that it is worth sharing if it strikes a chord with anyone;

“One of the most dramatically devastating impacts of being here is the realisation that I feel I can no longer consider myself a good role model for my children. Today, the anniversary of my own fathers death, I feel broken in a way I’m not sure I can explain. I miss him every day in life, even after all these years and still speak to him regularly but I cannot even bring myself to have those therapeutic conversations because I imagine his pain where he still alive to see me in this box. The physical pain is the biggest surprise and I question whether or not it is real or my brain playing tricks on me. Whatever the reality I wish I could get something for the pain.

It’s always been hugely important to me that my kids have a clear sense of themselves, of what’s morally right and wrong and what it means to be a good person in this mixed up world we all live in. Too many kids these days are deprived of positive role models and here I am robbing my children of the security and certainty they previously had with one of their main role models. I’m surrounded by young guys who clearly have lacked a male role model in their lives to help guide them and to help them make choices but to know that I have now dismantled or at the very least damaged that element of my years of privileged relationships with my kids is heart breaking.

In a perverse twist of fate I received letters today from my kids contradicting my emotions but for a reason I can’t fathom they have only served to heighten my despair. For the first time in life I’m afraid of me. Does that even make sense? I just need to keep scribbling until the feeling stops because it has me in a cold sweat, my t shirt is sodden with sweat on the back and with tears in the front. My prison cell feels too big tonight I want it to shrink and I want to be able to reach every boundary without having to move, what’s that all about? When I’m not writing I’m staring at the call button wondering if there is anyone at the other end who gives a shit. I question do I give a shit. I question if I’m losing the plot.

My youngest son wrote to me today and told me that I had nothing to apologise for, that nothing had changed as far as he is concerned and that he just wanted to get back to normal when I returned to the family home in a couple of months time, all going to plan of course. I’ve read the letter a dozen times and I’ll read it a dozen more before I switch the light off and slip into the chilled, living darkness that accompanies night time here. How can something that in everyday life makes you smile bring you such conflicting emotion? Why do his heartfelt honest comments make me feel like the opposite is true even although I know in my own heart he is being 100% honest?

Strangely, I just do not feel sorry for myself in the slightest. In truth I never have I have always accepted that actions provoke consequences and this is my outcome but it doesn’t diminish overwhelming despair at times. I just feel for all those around me that are caused pain by my being here.

Tomorrow I get to slip down the rabbit hole that has become my art class. I’m hopeless at drawing but forgetting that and concentrating on the project I’m working on provides the only window to relaxation amidst the constant need to be alert. When the tutor says time up it is almost always unbelievable because even although a few hours have passed it always feels like I’ve just sat down. It’s just so good to concentrate on something that’s not prison even although it is exactly that. The diversion and the break in pattern are priceless for me. I’m not sure the tutor knows the welcome impact created by this but one day I hope to get the opportunity to say thank you properly.

I think I’ll try and draw the window of my cell just now to see if the distraction can work in this setting. I know I need one.  Better not eat any cheese tonight as that could lead to nightmares. Oh God, I think I just told myself a joke…maybe I have lost the plot.”

As always thank you for taking the time to read our blog and please do not hesitate to comment either through the website at 

or on Twitter to @firsttimeinside…Have a wonderful week.

Comments (1)

  1. Denise MacLean


    Thinking of this young man and wish him well for a fulfilling future with his family. I’m so touched by his recognition that so many others in his orbit have missed out on a good role model who could have perhaps changed the trajectory of their own lives. I suspect he has probably made a difference to their experience without realising.

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