Ex-Prisoner Shares Astonishing Story Of How He Turned His Life Around

1 October 2019, 17:27 | Updated: 1 October 2019, 17:32

The caller told Shelagh Fogarty that for repeat offenders prison is not a punishment and to explain why the Justice Secretary's vow to make serious criminals serve longer sentences might not work.

The call, however, resulted in the caller sharing his astonishing life story with Shelagh Fogarty.

The ex-prisoner told Shelagh Fogarty: "I went a traditional route of my entire childhood in children's' homes and then a seamless transition into the criminal justice system and prisons where I spent most of my adult life apart from the last ten or so years."

He said: "What people don't seem to understand who have never been in prison, like I have, that for many of the people who are labeled recidivists, prison is not a punishment. It was never a punishment for me."

He added: "If you've never experienced what liberty is, it can't really be taken away from you.

Ex-Prisoner Shares Astonishing Story With Shelagh Fogarty About How He Turned His Life Around
Ex-Prisoner Shares Astonishing Story With Shelagh Fogarty About How He Turned His Life Around. Picture: PA

It's somewhere safe, familiar, routine ... it's the one place where you know every day that you're wanted, you're important."

He told Shelagh about how his life started. His mother was so worried about having a black child that she kept him hidden for eight weeks and then sent him to Dr Barnardo's.

After this, a couple who had lost their daughter to suicide adopted him but that didn't work out.

He spoke of "the emotional injury" of feeling "not part of society" and how he found comfort and commonality in prison.

The caller was arrested for armed robberies but managed to escape - and then fled to the French Foreign Legion.

Being in the French Foreign Legion, he said, gave him "space to think". He thought about his victims and he realised he "had to take responsibility" for the people he hurt.

He returned to England, surrendered to the police and got a 12 year sentence.

While in prison, he did a course with the Open University. It was, he said, "a life-saver".

You can listen to the whole call at the top of this article.