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my brother may go to prison [sad]

(54 Posts)
rubymoon Wed 23-Sep-09 13:18:55


My brother is in court on Friday and may well be sent to prison. I have no idea what to expect or how to help him or his family. Although he did commit a crime he has pleaded guilty and he hurt no - one.

He will loose his job and struggle to get another when he is released. His wife and two smallish children will be left to pay a big mortgage and all bills (she works part time). Will they get any benefits?

I can not help financially and live quite far away. To be honest i have been avoiding dealing with this and have been of little support so far and feel useless.

BadgersBait Wed 23-Sep-09 13:36:17

I suppose it would depend on what crime he actually commited to whether he would be sent down or not, and also if hes committed any other crimes or been in trouble with the law before. Sorry im of no help, dont know what to suggest really, just hope things turn out ok for him x

rubymoon Wed 23-Sep-09 13:43:51

Thakyou badger, he has been told to expect a custodial sentence. Hopefully they wont take him away immediatly. This has been very hard for my family as it is totally out of character i think he just got a bit desperate and things got on top of him, he is not the type who would cope well in a prison.

MorrisZapp Wed 23-Sep-09 13:47:32

Oh gawd what a nightmare. I don't know anything specific about benefits etc, but I do know that when the court hands down a sentence then it is normal to actually serve a lot less than that, sometimes by half, especially for non violent crimes.

So don't be scared by the length of the sentence, it may well not be that bad in reality. Also they take away any time spent in custody, remand etc.

rubymoon Wed 23-Sep-09 13:59:18

Thankyou for not judging.He is sure to be a model inmate so hopefully he will have time deducted for that?

I want to phone him with some reassurance before he goes as i cannot get to court but i cannot offer any practical help other than to have his children to stay should his wife need a break.

He is my big brother and i am so sad for him as he may have ruined everything for himself!

TracksuitLover Wed 23-Sep-09 14:07:03

Oh no rubymoon! sad

My brother is in prison. Like Morris said, he can apply for parole half way through his sentence so yes, the sentence he gets might sound like a shock at first, but if he behaves in prison he will probably only do half of it.

I don't know anything about benefits.

It is really horrible to think about them not coping inside I know, especially as there is very little you can do about it and it makes you feel helpless.

Our relatives were shocked too by what my bro did and thought it was out of character. He also went through a period of intense stress which 'pushed him over the edge'. He had been building pressure inside him for years by failing to deal with his issues from the past. There is some help available in prison if your bro is similar. It's limited help but more than he was getting before when his brain was too scrambled to even ask for help.

rubymoon Wed 23-Sep-09 14:17:26

Hello tracksuit,

Thankyou for your reply. You sound in a very similar position, hope your brother is doing ok!

Although i am worried about him in prison (the thought of it makes me feel sick) it is equally hard to think of him coming home and just how we are going to help him get his life back together, i think he may just crumble. Cant talk to anyone much about this as i am embarrased.

MorrisZapp Wed 23-Sep-09 14:20:44

Also prison can offer educational chances that may be hard to come by on the 'outside'. Some people manage to gain qualifications in prison, or use the time to get fit etc, or take up arts or hobbies.

Not much of a comfort I know but in these small ways there are some positive sides to look at too.

Your brother won't be alone. There will be other inmates who also aren't hardened crims, and who will want to keep their time as civilised and trouble-free as they can. All sorts of poeple can end up doing time in prison.

expatinscotland Wed 23-Sep-09 14:21:24

If he stole or committed any type of fraud he might be obliged to pay it back when he gets out or from any assets he has now.

expatinscotland Wed 23-Sep-09 14:22:36

Has he served any time in jail already? If so, that may well count towards any further time he might spend in custody.

Perhaps between now and Friday, too, his lawyer could manage to get him a house arrest instead.

expatinscotland Wed 23-Sep-09 14:24:05

Please don't be embarrassed, it's not your fault.

TracksuitLover Wed 23-Sep-09 14:31:32

I wish I could help you rubymoon, as I remember how awful I felt at the beginning.

And yes, it is a lot to deal with when you feel you can't talk to people about it much and have to work it out in your head on your own. I felt I shouldn't talk because of the family's shame and because it isn't in his best interests for lots of people to know, but I couldn't handle it on my own and I did choose some trusted people to talk to about it. This really helped me. Are there some people you can trust?

It is so hard to know how it will be for them when they come out because it is so unknown to us what this type of thing is like.

Are people standing by your bro and will they support him when he comes out? Remember that most of it is down to him so don't put a huge burden on yourself for a crime you did not do x

Mine lost his home, his wife, very little contact with his kids now, his friends, his job, his whole old life really and won't go back to live where he came from. He has to totally start again. Only a handful of people have contact with him now. The nature of his crimes means that society in general will never forgive him so he will always be looking over his shoulder. At least it sounds like what your bro did was less serious? He could be 'free' of it in time?

I felt like I grieved as though he had died for a while, even though he is still alive, he has lost his (old) life. I feel ok about it now.

rubymoon Wed 23-Sep-09 14:46:22

Hi expat,

He has never been in trouble before and didnt realise what he did would be taken so seriously (what he did was wrong and he knows now how stupid he was)(virtually kicking him up backside!!). He may have to pay back when he gets out, which may mean him loosing his house.

Thankyou morris for being positive, could do with a more positive attitude myself as i have a tendency to think the worst! It would help to know what will happen on the day and if he will have to take some stuff with him and if we can talk to him when he reaches the prison to see if he has settled in. I suppose lots of people make mistakes, hopefully he will get through this.

rubymoon Wed 23-Sep-09 15:00:23

Oh tracksuit, how hard for you, i am feeling just like you describe - shame, embarrasment, guilt at not being there.

At the moment his wife is standing by him but this is hard for her and she needs to think what is best for her and the children. Maybe they will move away and make a fresh start once this is over because it is a small town and everyone will know all about it soon.

My family are also being supportive but he has distanced himself. His best friend died a few years ago.

higgle Wed 23-Sep-09 18:57:09

Could you share with us what he has pleaded guilty or been found guilty of? I might be able to help you with this ( ex criminal defence solicitor) What do his legal team say? Quite often the judge or magistrates will tell someone they may go into custody but when the pre sentence reports are prepared the court is able to take another course. Your sister in law should contact NACRO for some help about benefits etc. Many ex prisoners go on to re establish themselves very sucessfully in new careers - there is a book very widely available in prison libraries called " I can do that?" with all sorts of useful ideas, depending on waht the offence is all sorts of careers from teaching to town planning could be on the cards. Prison is awful and does no o;ne any good, but it need not be as dreadful as you fear. If y;ou can give a bit more information I will try to give you a better idea about what is likely to happen - and of course tagging and parole ( not at all dependant on "good behaviour" in most cases, these days) do make a differenc.

browntrout Wed 23-Sep-09 19:22:41

he will receive a discounted sentence for his guilty plea which may (depending on the nature of the offence and the timing of his plea) make the difference between a custodial and non-custodial sentence. If he is sentenced to imprisonment he will serve half in custody and the rest on licence assuming he behaves himself. As he nears the end of his sentence he may also be given a lower category which can mean day release etc. There are some offences which, although no one has been physically hurt, tend to attract custodial sentences (eg theft from an employer etc) it still may not happen at the lower end of the scale though. As higgle says often defendants are warned to prepare themselves for the worst but can ultimately receive a non-custodial sentence when the probation service reports have been taken into account. If he has a good solicitor/ barrister then they will be trying to mitigiate on his behalf for the lowest possible sentence at the forthcoming hearing. Good luck.

rubymoon Thu 24-Sep-09 09:15:09

Hi higgle and trout (love the names on here!),

Trying not to identify for obvious reasons but the charge is theft and there was a huge breach of public trust (he may not get much sympathy) although the ammount is being argued over as is the financial gain ( could be between 20,000 - 60,000)

He has pleaded guilty but sentencing has now been put off til October so that his defence team can go through some new evidence against him.

I am telling my sil to contact NACRO thankyou for the tip! My worry is that the type of crime may restrict the jobs he could apply for in the future, maybe a change of career would be good but his age may work against him. I have no idea what length of sentence he will get or if he will serve close to home. Am going to remain positive though - its not the end of the world he will come through this.

expatinscotland Thu 24-Sep-09 09:23:08

if it's theft he may well be compelled to pay it back upon his release.

he may also be fined.

of course, any means-tested benefit entitlement depends not only on income but also on assets.

jettisoning or getting rid of assets in order to qualify for benefit or avoid paying recompense could be ruled as willful deprivation of capital and void the claimant's entitlement.

i'm sorry this is happening to your family, ruby.

i'm also very sorry your brother put his family at so much risk financially by his actions.

hope things work out.


tinkerbellesmuse Thu 24-Sep-09 09:30:52

Breach of trust cases (particularly for that sort of amount) will almost always result in a custodial sentence. You need to prepare yourself for that.

When he is sentenced he will be taken into custody immediately and it is very unlikely that once he is taken to the cells via the dock you will be permitted to see him until visiting can be arranged at the prison to which he is sent. Again you need to prepare yourself for this and say your goodbyes before he goes into Court.

You say you have done little yourself to help so far - you have written tis and so obviously care so please speak to both your brother and sil. They are probably depserate for your support and may well ave read your silence as judgement.

Try not to think too much about the future - you need to concentrate on getting your brother and sil through the next few weeks.

ParisFrog Thu 24-Sep-09 09:41:54

Am so sorry. Can deeply empathise as I went through a similar experience. Can't offer a lot of practical advice but do try to keep the family together. My family was pratically torn apart cos some relatives just wanted to bury their heads in the sand and ignore it all. Support your sil as much as possible, she will really be hit hard by this, plus it will make you feel more useful - one of the problems in this situation is feeling completely useless because you have no control over the outcome.

Take one day at a time. It really does get easier (though I wouldn't have believed that if someone had told me all those years ago).

rubymoon Thu 24-Sep-09 09:48:47

Tinkerbell you are right about my silence i hope they dont think I judge I just want to be constructive and not my usual pessimistic self. Also when I have spoken to him he is reluctant to discuss anything to do with this (I am his little sister and he is usually the one giving out the advice). I actually found out about it through my sister.

Maybe this is his way of coping and he feels uncomfortable discussing it but at least now I have some idea of what will go on, thankyou expat i think they may need lots of support.

higgle Thu 24-Sep-09 11:19:49

Sadly, given the amount and the breach of trust aspects you have mentioned I agree that custody is the most likely option. Your Brother really needs to spend some time with his legal team to be absoloutely sure that every last shred of mitigation is before the court - and paying back some of the monies, or having steps in place to do so - such as putting the house on the market etc. would be perhaps the most powerful mitigation. I've met a lot of prisoners in my time and first of all you need to be prepared to be able to cope - if there is one prison where he would almost certainly be taken from court then call them and find out what you can take, how many clothes etc. - "reception" will be pleased to help. It is hard enough to cope without arriving in your best clothes with no idea what clothes you need, books you can have etc. etc. Sorry if this sounds morbid but he will settle in better if prepared. You can also find out what visits etc. are allowed in advance and what education and other facitlities the prison has. The main things that seem to help are education courses, the gym and art - plus religion if you have one - or are open to support from tht quarter. It is awful and dreadful for everyone when these things happen but it really is even worse if the person concerned cannnot summons the strength and courage to tackle it head on. Life will never be the same again, but it can be as good. If there is anything i can do to help please let me know

rubymoon Thu 24-Sep-09 11:51:37

higgle , thankyou for your measured and kind response. His legal team initially really underestimated this telling him he would get a non custodial sentence (not sure if he witheld any information from them so not judging) now they seem to be panicking asking for more time twice since it was moved to crown court.

His job was very stressful and he was mentally in a not good place at the time, hopefully he will get some counseling and make full use of the facilities.

puddytats Thu 24-Sep-09 11:55:45

Hi, my dh went to prison a few years ago for something that sounds similar to your brothers. I do not want to post too much detail on here but please feel free to email me at sebity @ hotmail . co . uk if you want any information at all.
It is horrid but you will get through it i promise

ilovemydogandmrobama Thu 24-Sep-09 12:10:11

May I suggest that if your brother is remorseful, that he expresses this to the court. Also, he may wish to get character witness statements in his favor before sentencing. It may also help if he contacts the people in charge of restorative justice so he may set up a meeting with those he has harmed. Or if he can't face it, then perhaps a letter to the victims.

While prison is not a great place, it isn't as awful as a lot of people think. My colleague said that he mainly watched TV in his cell, had a bit of exercise and ate a lot of chips.

Think it will be more difficult for your sil, so would suggest that your BIL, should be get a custodial sentence, he familiarizes himself with visiting orders.

Oh, and be sure and ask his legal team to request a prison close to home.

Best of luck. smile

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