I started working in the legal field when I turned 21, and although I was a single parent of three children, working full time, I worked extremely hard to do my exams and pass them. I helped hundreds of vulnerable people thought my personal life and professional life and did my fair share of pro bono work.
Unfortunately in 2008 I was arrested for a crime of fraud, and although I did not have any direct link to having done anything knowingly or intentionally, I was convicted on circumstantial evidence and the fact that I should have been more vigilent as a professional.
As a professional, if there is no direct evidence for convicting on evidence, the professional bodies get you on the basis of “bringing disrepute to the profession”.
My children were at court supporting me. Up to this point I was the breadwinner, mother , father and friend to my children and many many people who were vulnerable. I was hysterical as the judge summed up and although he felt that I had not benefited from this crime, he had no option but to sentence me to 5 years.
I lost my business, my children, my freedom, my self respect and everything I worked for. I took it on the chin. I got transferred to open prison and with great difficulty and patience I began doing voluntary work for a charity and continued until a month before my release from prison in late 2013.
I had to sign on for benefits, which I did and am on still!
I have applied for hundreds of jobs and been to uncountable interviews but each time I disclose my conviction people look at me as an offender, a convicted person, a untrustworthy person. My conviction was against lenders not an individual. The lenders concerned probably had insurance therefore they haven’t made a loss. The person who ran away with the money didn’t make the loss nor any member of the public. Only I have made a loss.
I continue to look for work, any sort of work. However not even the supermarkets want me.
The added problem is that due to the length of my sentence for a white collar crime, my conviction will never be spent. I can’t grasp the idea that my conviction and the sentence I received is worse than some one who has been convicted of a violent crime.
I am not saying what I did or failed to do is right, but I do feel that I have been left out in to the community, where there is no prospect of finding work, no one happy to take me on. Some places say I’m over qualified and the others say their policy is such that they cannot employ me due to my conviction. It’s a joke really, I want to work and no one wants a ex offender.
I would like to know when will this go away? I also want to know why is it that Judges do not think about the impact of the sentence they give. They are aware of the fact that if the sentence is above 4 years it will never be spent, so is it a way of ensuring the ex offenders can not rebuild there lives?
I want to work, I want to pay for my mortgage, but there is no help out here. I want to know why? The CJS is all for punishing, but not there to help convicted people get back into work, and someone needs to look at the impact of the length of sentences given.
By Harry (name changed to protect identity)