Amanda, 24, North Ayrshire
Amanda was 18 when she was charged and sentenced to 22 months in Cornton Vale Prison for possession of a knife.
With a bright and promising future ahead of her, Amanda was an excellent school student, looking to go on to university and study social work. However, through a moment of “madness”, her life has taken a much more difficult path.
The Irvine teenager went through a difficult period after her gran, who she lived with and looked after, passed away. Having been provided with a house by the council Amanda fell in with a bad crowd and went from studying hard to drinking heavily and losing touch with the rest of her family.
One evening in a confrontation with her neighbour and in fear for her safety, Amanda picked up a knife from her kitchen for self-protection. Although she did not use the knife she was arrested, charged with possession and was soon being held on remand in prison.
In 2007, she was sentenced to 22 months in jail for carrying a knife. Although her sentence ended when she left the prison gates, in her own words, the impact has continued every day since.
Amanda, now 24, said: “Although it was a difficult time in my life, there is absolutely no excuse for me to have picked up a knife and I regret that decision each and every day. Although no one was hurt, the consequences on my life have been huge.
“Picking up a knife has meant that even the simplest things that we take for granted in life are difficult – getting a job, renting a flat etc. Instead of going to university and on to a good job, my life has been a lot harder. If I could turn back the clock, I would.”
Although no one was injured when Amanda picked up a knife, she is well placed to see both sides of the damage that knife crime causes. Her young nephew was stabbed four times when he was only 14 years old in 2011.
Amanda said: “Having seen the damage caused to my nephew by someone carrying a knife, it has really shown me how stupid I was to have picked up one myself. Physically he is okay now, but mentally I have noticed a real difference. Before the incident he was a young vibrant teenager, now he’s more reserved and apprehensive when going out. It’s such a waste.”
Since leaving prison Amanda has worked hard to turn her life around. She now looks to live a positive and fulfilling life and hopes to make a difference to others. Now in full time employment, Amanda also gives some of her time supporting the social care charity Quarriers.
Amanda hopes that other people’s lives won’t go the same way as her own and by telling her story; Amanda can educate young people on the dangers and devastating consequences that carrying a knife can bring.
Picking up a knife has meant that even the simplest things that we take for granted in life are difficult.Amanda, 24, North Ayrshire