My name is Frankie Owens I was prisoner A1443CA at Her Majesty’s Pleasure until 2nd August 2011. I suffered from a Bipolar disorder and it was this untreated illness that led to me going to prison. As a first time offender I had no idea how the system or a prison worked. I was clueless to it all, and it was hard for me going in and frightening for the family and loved ones I left behind. To save my sanity and give me something positive to focus on I began writing about the process I was going through, it felt like self help. As the days progressed it occurred to me that the ‘Little Book of Prison: A Beginner’s Guide’ would prove useful to first time offenders and their families and help them get through what is surely one of the most difficult times in their lives. After being a prisoner and losing everything I am now an awardwinning writer with 30 articles published to date, and counting. I have been welcomed by The Huffington Post, Sabotage Times, The Guardian, Works for Freedom, The Justice Gap and The Royal Society of Arts. Numerous universities have invited me to speak, with local newspapers and radio stations running articles and interviews…a fantastic response. However, when it came to my local book launch and local newspapers, the focus was on my negative past instead of my positive future work. The book launch was cancelled as someone went into the shop and threatened that there would be trouble. The local newspaper ran the story of my convictions and not the one about the award-winning book that helps people.
Although they did choose to use the photo I had sent for the book story they did not mention my mental illness! I decided that I would do something to highlight Forgiveness, and how imperative it is to ex-offenders in order for them to re-integrate into society and focus on a positive future and not fall into social isolation or reoffending (the product of focusing on the negative past). Society must contemplate forgiveness and take the opportunity to recognise all the reasons the criminal committed the crime, then they can make an informed decision.
I came across The Forgiveness Project and its wonderful work and the dye was cast. My challenge is to walk from John O’ Groats to Land’s End, visiting towns and cities along the way. Each destination will include visits to prisons, probation trusts, youth offender groups, universities, and charities that work to help promote understanding, rehabilitation and re-integration of ex-offenders. The walk begins 1 September in Scotland, walking for 60 days until arriving at Land’s End on 31 October.
The target is to raise £10,000 for The Forgiveness Project, and raise awareness of the concept of forgiveness in our society. There are two ways to donate or sponsor me. Either a one-off donation, or to sponsor me for each completed leg of the journey. We welcome your support in any way you can. If you can’t help financially, please help us spread the message of the great work The Little Book of Prison and The Forgiveness Project does to help victims, offenders and their families.
I’d also love to invite readers of theRecord to walk with me, either for The Forgiveness Project or for a charity of your choice.
Article taken from issue 13 of theRecord.