Is there a full stop at the end of a sentence? Not in this case
On the whole, when an individual is arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to prison, society breathes a sigh of relief – the perpetrator is being punished, and the community is being protected.
But what about the families that are left behind? the parents, partners, siblings, and perhaps most importantly, the estimated 20,000 children in Scotland who have a parent in prison each year?
They are innocent, but are often treated as though they are guilty. They feel stigma, rejection, victimisation, and rarely know who to turn to for support.
Thankfully there is one organisation that can help.
Families Outside is the only charity in Scotland to work exclusively on behalf of families affected by imprisonment. They speak to thousands of families each year, providing information and support on issues such as housing, finance, anxiety, and depression.
However, due to the stigma associated with imprisonment, and a lack of awareness and trust to certain agencies, families are often very difficult to reach.
As one family member said, “My situation spiralled out of control; I felt isolated and alone. It was only thanks to Families Outside that I was able to get a handle on my situation – if I’d only know about them earlier, my situation might not have gone so out of control.”
Families Outside is already working with Police Scotland, Social Work Scotland, the Scottish Court Service, and numerous other organisations that come into contact with families affected by imprisonment, but still earlier intervention is required.
According to Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive at Families Outside, “Families are often described as ‘hidden victims’; they need support but are often too ashamed to actively seek it. At Families Outside, we support over 2,000 families each year, and one of the most common comments we hear is, ‘I wish I had known about you earlier’. Earlier intervention often means we can solve issues before they escalate.”
And when earlier than at the point of remand or sentence?
In 2015-16 there were 116,800 proceedings in Scottish courts which led to 99,950 convictions.
Of that total, and not including the high number of people remanded into custody, 13,735 people were sentenced to prison – people who have families outside, families that need support.
Although your case may have ended with custody, Families Outside’s case has just begun.
Give your clients’ families some hope and tell them to contact Families Outside on 0800 254 0088.