Dad’s prison hell is turned into prize book of his experiences

AUTHOR Frankie Owens with his book. Picture: Malcolm Wells (13132-7199)
AUTHOR Frankie Owens with his book. Picture: Malcolm Wells (13132-7199)

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FOR father-of-three Frankie Owens, being sent to jail was a turning point in his life.

He appeared to the outside world to have everything.

He was highly educated, had a great job, a loving wife and three beautiful daughters.

But because of a then undiagnosed mental health condition, hypermania, he went on a crime spree fuelled by drink and drugs which saw him arrested dozens of times over 2010 and 2011 and put him in prison twice.

It was at this lowest ebb that he wrote The Little Book of Prison: A Beginner’s Guide.

Since its publication last year, it has won the Koestler Platinum Award for Non-Fiction.

It is now up for the prestigious People’s Book Prize, which author Frederick Forsyth is patron of.

Mr Owens, from Hayling Island, said: ‘It was amazing to win the Koestler but to be nominated for a second prize in a year is such an honour. I’m so proud.’

The book has proven so popular it has become required reading for prison governors, probation officers and young offenders.

And it has garnered praise and support from authors Lord Jeffrey Archer and Howard Marks, the Prison Education Trust and Nacro, the largest organisation for ex-offenders in the UK.

Last year, Mr Owens also completed a 62-day trek from John O’Groats to Land’s End in aid of the Freedom Project.

His condition is now under control with the right medication and he is enjoying life again.

He said: ‘I’m proud of how the book has helped people.

‘I carry a yellow card now that says “mental health survivor” as I’m exactly that.’

To vote for the Little Book of Prison go to peoplesbookprize.com.

The book is available online and at book shops and is published by Waterside Press.