I am authentic in the life I live now as a mindset coach, a speaker, a father, a son, a friend, a partner. I will always live with my past and I do this not by pretending that it does not exist. I carry my story because it exists, not as a burden, but as an acceptance of who I am now and where I have been.
There can be no other area of public policy, with the exception of the related issue of drugs reform, where establishment politicians so readily bang the drum for the exact opposite of any evidence-based solution. Our prisons clearly fail to rehabilitate: half of those released reoffend within a year, including six in ten of those on sentences of less than twelve months. Liberal Democrats must lead the call for drastic and urgent action to reduce crime, protect victims more effectively, help criminals turn their lives around and protect taxpayers money: we must push for a Ministry of Justice target to halve the prison population by 2025.
By excluding and ignoring young men, we are damaging our society as a whole. We should be moving towards a more equal society and not obsessed with the past. It is about time we move past gender and begin to look at people for who they are. Until women are willing to do this as equally as men should, there will always be an imbalance which damages our society.
Britain's prisons, unless we're lucky, could possibly give the government a pre-Christmas present they wouldn't like at all. Violence, self-harm and suicide are rising exponentially, and a system that's been creaking at the seams for years is like a boiler with a screwed-down safety valve. If it finally blows, the result could be catastrophic.
The reality is we also have a group of youngsters who risk being left behind for good if we don't change the status quo. Is the shadow spokesman really arguing to just consign this group to rattling round the justice system, committing offences time and again until they end up as adults behind bars?
Earlier this year the Government unveiled plans for one of the most ill-thought through policies of this Parliament. It's called the Secure College - a new Titan prison for young offenders. It sounds good in theory. It's supposed to be a new institution that will 'transform youth custody' by prioritising learning. In reality it's a flawed, expensive and potentially dangerous idea.
In certain London bars I reckon the bare monastic cell look is considered quite cutting edge. By contrast, ADX Florence is beyond cutting edge (unless it's prisoners cutting their wrists in despair). ADX Florence's ambience is an altogether bleaker affair, one which seems designed to crush people and push them right over the edge.
Chris Grayling doesn't know what's going on. Some might argue that this is true generally, but I'm talking about the "book ban". He didn't mean for it to happen, he didn't intend to deprive prisoners, and he doesn't have a good answer to the criticism that's being levelled at him. And the fuss is part of a wider and even more concerning issue.
G4S, the private security firm that sounds like a carving in a wood tree, has refused to class a riot in its Oakwood Prison as a 'riot', despite the fact that scenes one would normally associate with rioting were witnessed by prison officers such as upturned pool tables, random things being on fire and prisoners shouting 'This is a successful riot we're currently engaged in.'