Ex-convict creates website to help prisoners and their families to adapt to prison life
Convicted criminals who are sent to prison have to face a world with its own rules of behaviour which is why Jorge de la Hidalga has set up a webpage called Infoprision, aimed at providing information and support to new inmates and their relatives. De la Hidalga is well qualified in this area as he is himself an ex-convict who spent time inside after falling on hard times and getting involved in some dubious business deals. He studied a History degree while in prison and is the author of some books among them Vis à vis, which is due to be published shortly. He now works for a foundation in Madrid aimed at combating digital breaches.
De la Hidalga says that he is interested in helping those inside and their families and believes that he has the necessary knowledge and experience to do this. He spent several years in various Spanish prisons and now wants to use his experiences to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.
Before embarking on the project to create Infoprision, he did a quick search of the internet to see if he could find anything on prisons and life inside but all he found was the testaments of ex-convicts who had not recognised their errors and who were trying to vindicate themselves. He says that he recognises that he committed a mistake and paid the price for it. He also recognises that inmates find themselves in a helpless situation and are often forgotten by their lawyers once they are in prison. Moreover, he says that many criminal lawyers are not very knowledgeable in the rights of prisoners.
De la Hidalga is conscious of the fact that a webpage is not very accessible for inmates which is why the page is directed at the relatives of inmates. He says that Spanish prisons have improved a lot and that there are some prison officers who respect the rights of inmates but that inmates still face difficulties on a daily basis.
He says that Infoprision is a type of ‘hotel guide’ in that it is intended to help those who find themselves in prison for the first time deal with the situation better so that they are not completely uninformed.
The website contains different categories on new inmates, reoffenders etc. There is also a section for relatives of inmates which includes forms for them to print off (complaint forms, application forms for conditional release…etc) intended for inmates.
One of the future projects for the site is to open a section on blogs written by inmates so that they can share their experiences and opinions and publish photos. There is also a dictionary of slang used in prisons and recommendations on which lawyers to use.
I was remanded to Malaga’s notorious Alhaurin prison on the word of a small town Magistrate in Archidona. I was held for 14 months. Had it not been for my private lawyer, Ines Barba Novoa of SBJ Abogados I would have surely been convicted of a crime that never happened. Instead, Ines uncovered corruption within the town, its courts and linked it to an ongoing investigation on the the coast named Operation White Whale. As my wife at the time was in freedom following her attempt to frame me for a murder which turned out to be no more than a tradgic cot death my fate was sealed at the hands of the Judge. After a long battle to have my case transferred to Malaga at the reluctance of the Magistrates court in Archidona I was eventually awarded bail and released. I was never formally charged for the allegation I was remanded for. To explain my experience at the hands of the court and the prison regime I decided to write a book called ‘Cold as Ice’ by Jamie Samuels which will be in the shops by the years end. Don’t be fooled by Democracy and the Human Rights Act, none of this is relevant when you have a system like Spain has, a throw back to Roman times when a suspect is Guilty until proven innocent!
Is this website / service available in English language? My boyfriend was recently remanded in Alicante, and from the UK I don't know where to turn for advice. This site looks like a great way to help people…
(he is a Norwegian citizen so Prisoners Abroad does not apply)