Career criminal develops family support app to “bring prisons into 21st century”

Career criminal develops family support app to “bring prisons into 21st century” image


John Burton, who served a six-year sentence for drug charges, is set to launch ‘Inside Connections’, an online family support app for people with family members in prison.

The application is targeted at families with relatives in prison but the public can also use the services it provides including guidance on accommodation, drug addiction and employment.

During the last 18 months of his six-year sentence, John was being supported by Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) probation case manager, Andy Fennell, who was instrumental in helping John turn his life around.

John said: “I knew I didn’t want to continue with a life of crime as I could see how hard it was on my kids.

“Andy was assigned to me to assist with my home visit applications but he also helped me to change my attitude and see a way out of a life of crime.”

Andy said: “There has been a big change in Johns’ attitude towards criminality and society. He’s doing something positive and it will be a great benefit to a lot of people.

“The experience of working with John has taught me that life gives second chances when you demonstrate the desire to change. John has a lot to offer and just needed adequate support.

“It has been a pleasure working with John. He has high ambitions and I wish him the greatest success with his innovative application.”

John also credits Michelle Green, head of safer custody and vulnerable prisoner unit at Oakwood prison and John McLaughlin, Oakwood prison director, for motivating him to change his behaviour.

After criticising the costs to visitors for catering, Michelle suggested John work with the catering team to put his suggestions into practice. The service became more efficient and cost effective and was prised by the prison director.

John learned his business skills could be put to legitimate use and started work writing out ideas for the Inside Connections app in his prison cell.

John said: “All profits that are made by the app, such as the greeting card service or advertising, are put into a trust fund to benefit prisoners being released from prison.

“Anyone can purchase the discounted cards through the application but is intended for families to keep in touch with prisoners on important dates such as birthdays or holidays.”

Drawing on the difficulties being in prison, John designed the application to assist families in tracking their relatives in the prison system. Important paperwork can be scanned into the app and details of work history and qualifications can also be uploaded.

The application includes solicitor reviews, a prisoner art gallery and a CV creator that is linked to any work experience gained in prison that is stored in the application.   

Click here to download the app.