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If employers aren’t willing to give people with convictions a second chance how can we ever prove that we’ve changed

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Josh readily accepts that having been convicted of a serious offence he deserved to be punished. However, having worked hard to deal with the issues that led to his offending, Josh is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he’s going to be punished for life.

In 2016, I was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for a violent and sexual offence. This means that as things stand, my conviction will never become spent.

I totally agree that when you commit a crime you should be punished and I admitted my guilt straight away. I spent almost 4 years in prison, lost my career in the Army, will remain on an extended licence until 2024 and have to sign the Sex Offenders Register for at least 15 years.

Whilst I was in prison I remained fully committed to my rehabilitation. I completed 19 different qualifications (including bricklaying, barbering, industrial cleaning and book-keeping) and three offender behaviour programmes until the parole board deemed me safe enough for release.

However, since my release I have found that regardless of my intentions to rehabilitate and my genuine desire to move on and make the best of my life, my efforts are falling flat on their face. Whenever you’re applying for a job or looking to buy insurance, you have to disclose any unspent convictions. This means that employers often don’t respond to you and insurers will either reject you or massively increase your premium. These are just a couple of obstacles that you’re likely to come up against, your application to university or going on holiday are also likely to be affected.

It very much feels that whilst probation and the prison service promote rehabilitation the actual boots on the ground experience of reintegration is practically impossible. It feels like there is no formal route to rehabilitation after you have received a sentence of over 4 years. Where’s the incentive to rehabilitate?

I understand that members of the public don’t want dangerous people working with children and vulnerable people and it’s right that these groups are protected. However, jobs that involve working with these groups will always involve an enhanced DBS check and a check of the barred list which sets out quite clearly those people who are deemed to be too high risk to do this type of work.

But what purpose is served by refusing to give somebody with a conviction a second chance – it’s like pulling up the ladder when you’re safe and not worrying about the people who are trying to get out of the way of danger. Everybody needs something to aspire to; why would you take that away from them.

I was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison but does that mean that I should live a life time of anxiety with increased insurance premiums and limited job opportunities until the day I die.

My offender manager would agree that I’ve taken every opportunity available to me to rehabilitate but there are brick walls everywhere. At the age of 27 I feel as though my life has already been concluded.

By Josh  (name changed to protect identity)

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