Experiences of Detention - Jane's Story
The following article, written by one of BID's Legal Managers, appeared in our Summer newsletter.
"Tears streaking down her face and bright red, swollen eyes were what greeted me when I first saw Jane at a legal surgery in the prison where she was detained. “You must help me. Please, you must help me,” she pleaded.
I met Jane, a single parent, for the first time when she’d just been told by the Home Office that they would be keeping her in prison after the completion of her sentence despite the fact that she has four young children who needed their mother back. The children were in the care of their grandmother who suffers from a serious physical health problem. The Home Office was fully aware of the grandmother’s severe ill-health but deemed it appropriate for her to continue with the full time care of Jane’s four young children. This meant that the grandmother could not always attend appointments to treat her illness and, despite her best efforts, the needs of the children were not always met either.
Meanwhile, Jane’s health was deteriorating rapidly as well. She suffers from severe depression which stemmed from repeated incidents of childhood sexual abuse. Her illness was exacerbated because of her continued incarceration. The depression became so severe that Jane made many attempts to end her life.
Jane’s children were also displaying increasingly erratic behaviour as a result of their mother’s continued absence. This included self-harming, talking about attempting suicide and bed-wetting. Their respective schools expressed deep concern about the change in the children’s behaviour.
My team set about preparing Jane’s application for release from detention, which involved taking witness statements, and obtaining medical and school reports. Jane was fortunately released by the Court and reunited with her family. My team’s hard work, persistence and endeavour eventually paid off. They never gave up in the fight to reunite a woman with her four young, vulnerable children. They never gave up the fight of ensuring that people judged Jane not solely by her past actions, but by the desperate plight she, her children and her mother found themselves in.
Jane now says she lives one day at a time. Being out of the confines of her prison cell and being with her children has helped her to manage each day as it comes. Her case epitomises the importance of the work undertaken by BID. We visited Jane’s prison during her darkest hours and helped put her on a path to recovery. I shudder to think what may have happened to Jane, her children and her mother if we hadn’t delivered that legal advice session and met her directly. As Jane stated herself “I couldn’t have done it without you."
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