Our criminal records system cost my husband his life

Jane’s story

Angry texts to a cheating partner sent my husband’s life on a downward spiral that resulted in his death. Now, I’m fighting to change the system that kept him trapped in despair.

Decades before he met me, my husband was in a relationship with a lawyer who cheated on him. Upon discovering the betrayal, he was distraught. In a moment of crisis, he sent angry texts to his ex partner, and ended up with a two-week prison sentence for using threatening language.

Before all this, he was a happy family man, a respected manager in a big company, and a much-loved member of the community. Then his life was turned upside down. He lost his job, got a divorce, and his children were taken abroad. The criminal record that followed his two week prison sentence was the final blow. It blighted his career and became an immovable barrier which prevented him from ever moving on.

My husband was a born leader and experienced professional in customer relations. After serving his sentence, he wanted to work in the public sector so he could be of service to others. But even after his conviction was considered ‘spent’, it still showed on the detailed criminal record checks required for roles in the public sector. He got loads of interviews, but frequently missed out on the job because of his record.

He eventually found work with a local council, and was beloved by colleagues and the members of the public he helped. But whenever he applied for promotion, the youngsters got the jobs, and it was put down to his criminal record from 20 years ago. His reputation, experience, and passion weren’t enough to overcome the mark on his name. He was trapped at the bottom of the ladder, despite proving his value time and time again.

This chipped away at his self-esteem and hope for the future. Over time, I watched as my caring husband became an alcoholic and lost his driving licence, his job, and eventually his life. 

If ‘spent’ really meant ‘spent’, my husband would not have struggled to get the work he wanted and gone on a downward spiral that eventually led to his death. It doesn’t seem right that a few texts in a moment of personal crisis should blight someone’s life so completely.

Our criminal records system is too unforgiving and it can lead to a lifetime of hardship. That’s why I’m fighting to change it. Join FairChecks and call on the government to reform the criminal records system. Together, we can make a difference.

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