Chris Atkins is a documentary maker who went to prison for tax fraud in 2016. He spent nine months in HMP Wandsworth, one of the most dangerous prisons in the UK, and has written about his surreal experiences in his bestselling book A Bit of a Stretch. After his release he interviewed 20 ex-prisoners about their time in jail, and turned the recordings into season 1 of this podcast. Their stories are shocking, uplifting, heartbreaking, hilarious, and often downright weird, taking you headfirst into the biggest prison crisis in history. It reveals a collapsing system that is failing victims and wider society, and reveals how the human spirit can thrive in the darkest corners. Each episode is centred around a different theme, like Arrival, Family and Change, and was a huge hit on its release and the winner of the Criminal Justice Alliance media award in 2021.
Over the last two years Chris has discovered a lot these contributors have gone back to prison, sometimes several times, and so he's written a follow up book Time After Time, asking why so many prisoners reoffend. It follows a colourful cast of criminals who just can't go straight, including Alex who spent nine months living in luxury hotels pretending to be the Duke of Marlborough, and Ed who has been recalled to prison four times since his release, despite not being convicted of any further offences. Season 2 of the podcast will dip into some of these crazy stories, as Chris interviews a fascinating cast of convicts as they cycle through our hideously dysfunctional justice system.
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