John Burton - Founder, Inside Connections Mobile App for iOS and Android

“If you’d asked me in 2014 if I was ashamed of what I’d done and what I’d put my family through I’d have said ‘no, I’m going back out and I’ve got no choice, I’ll do it all again’… but I’ve now changed as a person. In 2015, I decided to stop hitting weights hard, get fit, let my hair grow, and change my life. I couldn’t go through the prison system again, not with young children, no chance.”

The words of the founder of Inside Connections Limited and Inside Connections Support CIC
- John Burton

I was raised on an estate in Liverpool which was rife with drugs and crime, so I began getting into criminality from a young age. But it was while serving my second sentence [I was initially convicted of the importation of cigarettes in one of the largest cases in the UK at the time], that I noticed the same faces in prison coming back repeatedly, and I thought I needed to do something about the problem of reform and rehabilitation.

In 2017, I was released from prison after serving 6 years of a 12-year prison sentence for money laundering and the transportation of cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines worth millions, around the UK.

I started my prison sentence in HMP Liverpool (aka Walton), as a remand prisoner awaiting sentence. After 10 months in Walton, I was told that the Home Office had classified me as a Category A prisoner; it leads to me spending 12 months inside a unit in HMP Manchester (aka Strangeways), then HMP Garth, where I learned that I would be serving the remainder of my prison sentence outside North West England.

This meant moving to HMP Oakwood in Wolverhampton, and then finally to HMP Standford Hill, where I served the last 19 months of my sentence as a Category D prisoner in the Isle of Sheppey, which was a 540-mile round trip [for a 1-hour visit] for my young children. Witnessing my children struggle - because of something I’d done - was a major reason for my rehabilitation and resettlement.

Part One - A website and mobile app for iOS and Android aimed at prisoners, their families, victims of crime, communities, key services, and supported partnerships, to prevent offending and reoffending;

Part Two - A Community Interest Company (CIC) and Trust fund, aimed at offering supported care services for the most vulnerable in society. E.g. those exiting the prison, care home or military systems and young offenders (YO).

To say that I’m passionate about reform and rehabilitation is an understatement. As a prisoner going through the criminal justice system, I witnessed first-hand some of the changes within the UK prison system: Prisoners, prison officers and staff struggling under the weight of an aging and antiquated criminal justice system, but also the families and victims of crime struggling on the outside. My aim is to support the 45% of 16-18-year olds released from the care home system and who immediately go on to commit crimes and end up in prison. Also, the vulnerable people exiting the prison and military systems - prevention is better than cure.

I designed the Inside Connections app to be totally outward-looking, open-minded, and with global reach. I put families and communities back at the heart of reform and rehabilitation, through carefully considered - and delivered - supported care programmes, and housing, education, training and job opportunities.

I believe that we need to support those individuals who want to grasp - with both hands - another chance at life. If I can change my life and help to reconnect families and communities for the better, by guiding the most vulnerable along a path that leads away from crime – that must be a good thing.

John Burton

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