Tina was sentenced to 20 years in a US prison at the age of 17. During the first few months of her sentence, as friends and family drifted away, she felt abandoned and quickly lost faith in people. Making contact with Prisoners Abroad restored her confidence in people, and she now has hope for the future.

Here is one young woman’s story:

“My name is Tina and I am currently incarcerated in America. In 2008 at the age of 17 I was sentenced to 20 years. At the time the only person I had in America was my step-dad, the rest of my family lived in England. As months passed by, friends and family faded away, and I came to see the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ was true. Being young, abandoned by everyone and thrown away, I lost faith in people.

On a visit with the British Consulate they suggested I contact Prisoners Abroad. They restored my confidence in people with their kindness and loyalty. I have been in prison for 9 years and am now 26. Since being introduced to the people at Prisoners Abroad they have consistently been there for me. I look forward to my newsletter coming, keeping me updated on news in England. Reading other people’s stories in the newsletters makes me grateful that my living conditions, among other things, aren’t as bad in America as they are in other countries. Also reading about how people are released and against the odds - with Prisoners Abroad’s help - they become a success, inspires me that success is possible after my release. On birthdays and Christmases, when others forgot, they never failed, I always received a card from Prisoners Abroad, which in this difficult time meant the world.

Being arrested at the age of 17, I have never paid bills, or had a bank account or a job interview. In turn I had many questions on how to be an “adult” in the free world. Any questions I had, I would ask Prisoners Abroad and they would research for me and promptly answer all of my questions. On top of that Prisoners Abroad would send me freepost envelopes so I could write to them. With their help I now have a plan on how to make my resettlement in England a success. Not only has Prisoners Abroad been here during my incarceration, but it gives me comfort knowing I can come to them once I am released for help, and guidance in the right direction. I will be released on parole in 60 days and I am looking forward to coming home and thanking everyone at Prisoners Abroad in person for everything they have done.”

Since writing this letter, Tina has been released and has been aided by our resettlement team. It’s early days, but with our advice she has the best possible chance of making a life for herself.

Now is the time for women’s voices to be heard. In July, people around the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a chance to recognise the contribution women make to society, and reflect upon the struggles they still face. In a year that has seen women mobilise on a massive scale to take part in marches across the globe, it felt like an appropriate time to focus on some of the women we help who are in need of your support.

Prisoners Abroad represents a forgotten minority of women. At the time of writing, we are supporting 66 women out of a total of 999 prisoners. Although women still only account for a small portion of the worldwide prison population, between 2000 and 2015 the number of women and girls in prison increased by 50%. Being female in prison comes with its own unique set of issues – separation from children, access to sanitary products, and access to mental health services – to name just a few.

MR, Cananda, says:

“I was alone with no hope, suffering with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I do not feel alone anymore.” 

ZP, imprisoned in France, says:

“Being in prison abroad is very difficult. The first couple of days I was really scared because I could not speak to anyone or share my feelings; most people only spoke French. I tried to ask for help from the social workers here but no-one could help me because I wasn’t a French citizen. I got help from Prisoners Abroad - since that day I felt I wasn’t alone and I had a light in my life. I want to thank everyone who has helped me through my hard time in prison.”

If you would like to donate to support women like Tina, please do, every pound helps make a difference to the lives of people all over the world. 

Did you know...

  • 22% of the women we are currently supporting are classified as vulnerable (for reasons of mental or physical health) by Prisoners Abroad, as opposed to 14% of male prisoners
  • San Marino’s prison population has the highest percentage of female prisoners worldwide at 25%. Hong Kong is second with 20.5%. The UK’s female prisoners account for 4.6% of the entire prison population
  • The largest number of female prisoners in any country that Prisoners Abroad supports is 20 women in USA. The USA has the highest number of female prisoners worldwide (approx. 200,000 out of 2.15 million)
  • Three of the women Prisoners Abroad is supporting are currently pregnant or have a baby in prison with them