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Topic: My younger brother has gone to jail, and I'm struggling to hold it together

  1. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    3 June 2018

    I was referred to the beyondblue website to read a thread about a mum and her pain that she was going through after her son had gone to jail. It's crazy, because when I was reading it, I could very much see the same pain my mother is currently feeling.

    I needed to come here and put out how I'm feeling about the whole situation as well, from an older brothers point of view, but to be honest, I don't even know where to start.

    My brother, with the biggest warmest heart, with physical and mental heath issues, developed an ice addiction, he neglected his health and in the last year, my mum and I have done nothing but tried our damn hardest to help him, both professionally, personally, financially, the whole lot.

    He got himself into a fair bit of trouble about a year ago, and in lead up to his sentence, his smoking of ice increased, as did his lies, and everything was spiralling out of control for him and everyone around him. I left my well payed job to be more closer to my mum and brother in need.

    The whole process has been so stressful, and it's been so hard to now see my brother get taken away. He's such a vulnerable person, a "gentle giant", who without pointing the figure, influenced to trying ice, became hooked and majorly lost his way. His bedroom became his haven, he never left it, and my poor mother who became so submissive to his behaviour, did her best to care for him while he was in the darkest time in his life.

    I'm feeling fragile.

    I'm finding myself withdrawing. Having a hard time sleeping, and when I do, I instantly wake up with a cracking head ache. I start crying at unpredictable times, I've somewhat distanced myself from my boyfriend, I have my mum staying with me until she's going to be ok living alone.

    My brother has left behind some financial stress, and I'm left to now collect the pieces, to cancel his accounts, and to work out a ways to pay back all these "Afterpay" type transactions he's made over the last several months on top if fine reminders in the mail.

    The whole thing is just hard, but there's that glimmer that this is perhaps that divine intervention that he's needed, as nothing I or my mum did worked.

    I've been seeing an amazing psychologist for since this all began about a year ago, my GP has suggested I get on anti depressants which I'm almost contemplating.

    Are there any other siblings out there who's maybe been in my shoes who might be able to give me some advice? I'd appreciate it immensely.

    2 people found this helpful
  2. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10547 posts
    3 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Dear Leth~

    I'm afraid both you and your mum will have had a terrible time and although you have tried your very hardest an ICE addiction simply is not responsive to care, love, common sense or hard work. The brother you love was consumed by that addiction. While I would like to say he will re-emerge it is by no means certain. It depends on may factors including facilities in prison and professional support on discharge.

    Now is the time to rebuild your life, and I guess as far as possible help your mum rebuild hers too. You are a caring and sensitive person and have used yourself and your resources up. When we love somebody we tend to regard ourselves as bottomless wells of strength and support. Sadly this is not true as you are finding out.

    I'm glad you are seeing that psychologist and your GP. If medication is suggested it might be worth considering, at least for a while. Headaches, no sleep, crying and distancing yourself are all signs you have pushed yourself too hard.

    Is it possible to get back on good terms with you boyfriend? Now is the time when you need support and being with someone who loves you helps do this.

    I'd question trying to be responsible for all your brother's debts, even if you feel you should. I would guess many fines can be shelved and taken out of Centerlink payments later on. Leaving your job would have placed you in a difficult situation and you have to survive, and maybe help your mum until you can get another job.

    Hopefully your mum will not have gone guarantor on anything.

    I do not know you brother's situation however have you investigated the possibility of prisoner drug rehabilitation and what happens when he is discharged? If he is not too far away it may be possible to visit him, something that may well be very welcome. Our 24/7 Help Line (1300 22 4636) may be able to steer you towards prisoner and their families support organizations in your area.

    Although you may think it selfish please put yourself first now before your brother. That particular support phase is over. You need to be well for the long term for yourself, your mum, boyfriend and your brother. If dealing with anything relating to him or going for a visit is too hard on you please shelve it, at least for now.

    You are welcome here, and of course in that other thread, whenever you would like

    I presume the thread you mentioned was:

    Forums / Long term support over the journey / Sadness,grief and regret over sons incarceration

    (There are others).

    Croix

    3 people found this helpful
  3. Cindy looloo
    Cindy looloo avatar
    2 posts
    3 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Hi Leth

    my younger brother went to jail twice, he abused alcohol and other drugs when he wasn’t under the influence he wouldn’t hurt a fly, was kind and put others first etc. the substances change people, it gets a hold of them and they don’t hear anything even what family say, we tried to get help over the years sometimes it would work but only for short periods, when he went to jail we visited regularly, they need to be given hope, it’s the only thing that gets through as hard as it was for us, we still got to talk about it afterwards. We had to accept who he was and set boundaries ie Keep your substance use until after we have had the family function, didn’t always work though

    as for the fines, it’s no good you taking them on - your brother can let the Prison know he has fines outside, they contact SDRO and put them all together, this includes Afterpay , as easy as it is to just pay it, you need to take a step back and not to own that part

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Croix

    Thank you so much for the detailed response Croix and Cindy Ooooooh, it's very comforting know that someone has heard me.

    Today is a new day, my mum has gone back home to face the fact that she's still got things to do around her home, and surrounding areas like grocery shopping, seeing friends etc, which is positive.

    My partner has been a tremendous support, but my distance is driven by shame I think, embarassment as well? And I almost can't believe that my partner would even want to be around me knowing what has happened, I fear that he might have gotten put off from me, but I know it's not the case.

    Im really worried about my brother ultimately, I'm scared that due to be sever social anxiety and his strong attachment he had with my mum, that he's going to have difficulties accepting what is happening to him, and what he has done.

    I know that prior to this, both my mum and I would "jump" at any time he showed distress, anxiety, fear, and I know now he's going to still need that sort of comfort/validation, but he's not going to get it, and eventually he's going to have to learn to essentially grow up in there. Will this make him better? Or will it make him worse?

    As for his repayments and fines, I don't know where to get advice on freezing his debts, and I'm worried that neglecting them is only going to further get him into trouble.

    I know I have to let it go, but the fresh reality of it all is so debilitating and makes my mind overthink nonstop, and I'm feeling extremely depressed by it all.

  5. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Once hes been sentenced he can have his sheriff warrants (fines) called in, and can have them added to his sentence.

    I believe it's like $300 per day in prison. It's the best way to clear them

    I work in a prison if you need information on what to do

    2 people found this helpful
  6. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403
    That would be a tremendous help if you could provide me with more information?
  7. Doolhof
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    Doolhof avatar
    8809 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Hi Leth,

    I don't have any information to add, only a caring heart and a listening ear. If you have been reading the thread by July about her son, you may recognise I have popped up on that thread a few times for support.

    You have received some great, caring replies here. It sounds like The borderline may be able to provide you with more advice. People here are very obliging with their time and care for others.

    Hoping your family find all the help and advice they need right now. Best wishes from Dools

    2 people found this helpful
  8. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Doolhof

    Thank you Doolhof, yes, I have read the thread by July.

    Its still very fresh, and I have moments where I'm in disbelief, and then I get a bit of reality and that's when my anxiety really spikes.

    Ive read an interesting article on "how to prepare for jail" online, and I really wish I could somehow pass on that information to my brother. It's very useful information and I feel it might help him.

    As much as I'm trying to move forward, I'm feeling extremely stuck for him, and it's really hard to accept it, but I know that's the only answer.

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Warrants cant be called in until a final sentence has been given, prisoners can apply for them via a form (available from there unit staff).

    They can also speak to the "offender services" team within the fail.

    I have seen people with $30k citylink tell fines spend time clearing them.

    If you need info on anything inside the prison and how it works let me know

    3 people found this helpful
  10. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Sorry I did include a link but they removed it from my post.

    Try googling "calling in warrants" or "using warrants to pay fines during prison sentence" etc

    Otherwise tell him to talk to his case load manager or offender services.

    Let me know if you need answers about prisons

    2 people found this helpful
  11. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403

    Thank you for giving me that information. You're being a great help, thank you.

    Is it something that he can apply for in the near future?

    And what do I do with any unknown fines that may present themselves? Do I advise them of my brother's incarceration?

    1 person found this helpful
  12. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    He can apply inside the jail once all his court related matters are resolved (eg. Hes sentenced with no further charges pending)

    Once that happens he calls in his sheriff warrants and they send him a list of all fines he has outstanding and hes given options on how to pay, money or serving more time.

    The offender services team will contact centralink and other places on his behalf.

    Is her currently on remand at mrc? Or is he sentenced already?

    1 person found this helpful
  13. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403
    Currently at MAP waiting to be assigned to a prison to serve his time...
    1 person found this helpful
  14. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    4 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Right....so he'll either head to mrc if he is on remand or he'll go to a sentenced prison.

    A ratings go to barwin or port philip

    B to marngoneet, lodden and Fulham or ravenhall

    C to durringle or beechworth

    1 person found this helpful
  15. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    5 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403

    Thank you for all your help and information Theborderline, would it be ok to ask you more questions if I need to?

    I can't thank you all for your support and information, it's been so helpful and reassuring.

    2 people found this helpful
  16. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    5 June 2018 in reply to Leth
    Sure anytime, make sure he adds you to his visitors list so you can drop off clothes and money
    1 person found this helpful
  17. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    5 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403
    Yes, we have made those arrangements already. Would we need to resubmit that information after he has been moved from MAP?
    2 people found this helpful
  18. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    5 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    No, his phone numbers, visits list and finance all follow him. As does his valuables and property.

    It's a good idea to get him to despatch his valuables out to you so they're not in storage.

    Also if he is wearing nice runners tell him to have them stored in his property, or they will be "taken from him" by the other prisoners.

    He can only have $140 dropped in each calendar month, but he can work to earn more cash inside a well

    Check the prison he goes to website for what property you can drop off, as it varies at each jail

    3 people found this helpful
  19. Doolhof
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    Doolhof avatar
    8809 posts
    5 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403

    Hi Leth,

    My heart goes out to you and the family. There must be so much you are dealing with at the moment.

    Hopefully as a family, you can all openly talk about how you are feeling and if required find services and counselling to help yourselves through all of this.

    I had a neighbour whose husband went to jail. I invited female neighbours all over for afternoon tea, she was surprised I had invited her as well. I told her that her husband had done nothing wrong towards me, he made a mistake, so why punish her at all?

    No doubt you have been receiving different reactions from people when they learn your news. Hopefully you are all holding up okay.

    Hi Theborderline,

    I am so very pleased you are able to help Leth with these enquiries. On behalf of everyone who needs help now and then, I thank you very much.

    It is very admirable of you to offer advice and suggestions.

    Cheers to you both from Dools

    1 person found this helpful
  20. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    16 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403

    Hi again Theborderline,

    My brother has been moved to a remote jail in Victoria from MAP.

    The jail is a much larger scale than where he was at MAP, and after one day of being moved, he's facing incredible social anxiety as he's expressed over the phone with me.

    I understand it'll take time for him to get used to his new surroundings.

    It's of a much lower security standard, and has the option to be outside of lockdown for much longer than he was at MAP.

    are you able to elaborate more on the overall structure he'll have to face at the new jail?

    Treatment by the guards and inmates? And what should be do if he's struggling socially?

    Any advise would be a great help in alleviating my anxieties as all this seems so foreign to get my head around.

    1 person found this helpful
  21. Doolhof
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    Doolhof avatar
    8809 posts
    17 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Hi Leth,

    Hopefully this jail is not too far away for family to visit your brother.

    Also wondering if you and your family members are receiving any counselling or support to help you thought this.

    Now you know where your brother is, can you contact the prison, I am not sure if they have some kind of support person, maybe a visiting person who may be able to talk with your brother. I'm not sure how all that works, I have heard of volunteers who visit prisoners.

    Hope you find some answers.

    Kind regards from Dools

    1 person found this helpful
  22. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    17 June 2018 in reply to Doolhof

    Hi dools,

    Im currently getting counseling, and have been for about year. My sessions have increased from monthly to fortnightly.

    Mum has been recommended to see her GP for a referral to see a councilor also.

    I might try calling the jail to see if they're able to provide some sort of support for my brother.

    I know it's completely out of my control and I pray that he'll find the strength to take it day by day.

    I just feel so out of reach, and finding it hard to shelve it, even just for a little while.

    1 person found this helpful
  23. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    17 June 2018 in reply to Doolhof

    There are prison chaplains who while are religious will also come and have a chat

    Theres also independent prison visitors, they are not employed by the prison they come in and have a chat about anything really thats on there mind

    1 person found this helpful
  24. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    17 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Sorry to answer your question about structure, they all follow the same processes.

    Pre let out counts, work, counts during the days, lock up counts.

    Meal are the same, breakfast, lunch and dinner all prepared at the jail.

    Only differences are security ratings, items they can have in cell, possibly more options for tv, canteen items etc

    All jails have different visit days and times, check with his as too what days and times they are

    You can also look up the "deputy commissioners instructions" online, which have the rights and restrictions that all jails must abide by for prisoners and visitors

    1 person found this helpful
  25. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    17 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Apologies i did reply in detail but it didn't show up, so I'll type it again here.

    Depending on which jail hes at government or private they will run definately, i know alot more about government run ones.

    All jails mandatorily have a psych nurse onsite 24/7, they are there for prisoners deemed "at risk" of harming themselves and they are also there for those with mental health issues.

    Unit staff or your brother can request a distress referral be made, in which a psych/medical officer will see him within a 24 hr period to assess how he is and have a general catch up with...if he raises concerns about himself they can organise to have him booked into the doctor for depression based treatments, or to a psych nurse for closer review

    In terms of best ways to socialise and make friends i would suggest he finds employment within industries, it gives them purpose, something to get up for in the morning and allows them to work with other prisoners to build those bonds

    You will find staff will be good to him aslong as he shows respect to them, manners get you a long way in there.

    Things like count time, when counts called just go to your cell door and wait quietly, dont dawdle....refuse to follow direction etc as this just frustrates staff and alienates there willingness to offer support

    I would get him some of those coluring mosiac books, i see alot of inmates have them and do them after lockup to pass time, word finds, soduku are also good...you can drop them in at property

    Encourage him to write letters to friends and family, and yourself likewise as it lets him know hes not forgotten and has support there for him. Also encourage him to call regularly...they all use the phones in there...its there main way of reaching the outside

    As for prisoners, its not a nice place....especially for first timers, they are targeted by bullies who standover them for canteen, shoes, money etc.

    Those things can be avoided by having a group of friends or people you associate with that have done alot of jail, they will show him how to navigate his way through

    There are prisoners whose jobs are "peer educators" they are old heads, done alot of jail and stay out of trouble....there job is too mentor younger prisoners on how to do jail...its a good thing as officers cant do that

    If you have any more queries ask away

    4 people found this helpful
  26. Leth
    Leth avatar
    18 posts
    17 June 2018 in reply to Guest_7403

    Thank you so much for the detailed information. Just the fact that you're taking the time to explain this to me is really so helpful and I can't thank you enough.

    Are you able to elaborate on the types of work choices he'll be able to chose from? And how much of the day is spent doing that sort of work?

    Are meal times all shared in a (large) common space, or are they broken up into small different areas?

    Are any inmates likely to recognise if he's feeling distressed and offer some sort of trusting bond with him?

    I believe he has an appointment with the doctor tomorrow morning and I hope that he'll use that time to explain how he's feeling and the sort of support he'll need.

    He's generally a well natured guy, almost a very sensitive and vulnerable personally type, and my biggest worry is that he won't have the survival mechanism to deal with the social anxiety and fear of his surroundings and peers.

    Will it be made known to him that there are peer educators are available to him?

    As a generally anxious person myself, I can't help but think the worst. I'm definitely working on that, and with your helpful information it's definitely alleviating some of my worries and helping me see it much more factually than emotionally.

    Thank you again.

    1 person found this helpful
  27. Guest_7403
    Guest_7403 avatar
    391 posts
    17 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Industries typically compromises of metal work (welding/assembly), timber, kitchen, horticulture, spray painting etc

    They do vary slightly from jail to jail but there i guess you could say the framework

    Meals are usually issued from trolleys within the units, they can eat in common areas or take it back to there cells, i assume he will shy away to his cell at first

    Other prisoners will definately pick up on his vulnerability and lack of jail smarts, some may use it against him. Although some are decent blokes who will give him advice and steer him the right way

    The offender services team should let him know whats available to him upon reception...they call it orientation. I believe theyd tell him about peer educators there

    Jail can go two ways for first timers, its either such a terrifying experience that they make the change to never have to come back,

    Or it goes the opposite way, they network with others, learn different ways to commit crime, find more channels to a life of drugs and crime via associations made inside that lead to outside life

    I hope for your sake that your brother is the first type.

    Some young people i never see again, some join the revolving door of prisons.

    He needs to make those life changing decisions to stop associating with certain people that lead him down that path and move forward with his life, it all starts at home

    2 people found this helpful
  28. Doolhof
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    Doolhof avatar
    8809 posts
    21 June 2018 in reply to Leth

    Hi Leth,

    Just popping in to say "hello" and hoping you and your family are coping okay with all that has been happening. Maybe "coping" is not a good word to choose! Just want to let you know I am thinking of you.

    It is not easy to find the right words and I certainly don't want to cause any offense of sound flippant about the situation your brother, you and your family are in.

    The Borderline,

    Hi. I just want to make a comment here to say how amazingly helpful you have been to Leth and his family and also to anyone else who is reading this thread.

    The sharing of your knowledge and understanding may make a huge difference to many people! So thanks on behalf of everyone reading.

    Cheers to you both from Dools

    1 person found this helpful
  29. Mrs AK
    Mrs AK avatar
    9 posts
    21 June 2018 in reply to Leth
    I am in an almost identical situation to you Leth only I am the mother of a son who has recently gone to prison . This is the second time within three months and it seems this may be for a while . My beautiful troubled son left his hometown 3 and a half years ago for work and adventure , just past his 21st birthday , within two months he had been arrested and put on an order that meant he couldn’t leave to town in Victoria he was living in and so began the spiral that has consumed myself and my other two sons . His addiction to ice has obviously been out of control and although I have visited twice and he has had permission from corrections twice to come home , we could all see it wasn’t going to end well . He had a job , a great car , a wonderful partner and my first grandchild but still could not find the light at the end of the day . He has lost it all and after 17 days , most of those wondering where the hell he was ? He has made contact and didn’t seem the least bit concerned about me but was asking me to please make contact with the partner he left behind as he was super stressed about the mess he had left her to deal with ? I feel quite shattered and asked him quietly after having been paying out for him for 3 years if he worried how I was doing ? Love him so much but feel so helpless right now . I just needed to vent to those who may understand ....
    1 person found this helpful
  30. Doolhof
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    Doolhof avatar
    8809 posts
    22 June 2018 in reply to Mrs AK

    Hello AK,

    I am so very sorry to read your story. I would like to welcome you to the community here on the forum. It is very tragic your son has found himself in this predicament.

    We are very fortunate to have The Borderline here to help explain the correctional system to us all. I also hope you will feel supported on this forum.

    You may like to share more of your story here and in time, you might feel comfortable starting your own thread.

    If you don't mend me asking, have you been to talk to a counsellor about how you are feeling right now? I have no doubt there is a lot of confusion happening in your mind right now.

    It must be extremely hard to have a family member in this situation. It must also be hurtful and sad to have had the conversation you recently had with your son.

    Kind thoughts to you, cheers from Dools

    1 person found this helpful

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