Jackie's Story

Thinking back to the days of my son’s trial, I remember it being incredibly stressful.
My thoughts were ‘we will be fine, everyone will see the truth of what has happened here and things will be over soon’. As we continued through each day of the trial where key evidence was disallowed, I kept saying to my family ‘don’t worry, things will work out, you will see.’ 

Shockingly for us, when the decision came, my son was found guilty. I would very soon be shocked with the reality of him not coming home with us that day. It is a day I will never forget. Walking out of that courtroom, seeing and feeling my loved ones’ pain that I desperately wanted to take away, but couldn’t.
I can still remember the sobbing of my loved ones, the desperate and confused calls of my son yelling, “Mum!?!”
I was in complete shock but was doing my best to hold it together for them. When we got outside the court, our Lawyer came to us and handed me my son’s bag with his clothes and personal things in and we were told if you want to get in touch with him, the only way is to ring Mt Eden Prison where he had been remanded.

Over those next few days, I rang Mt Eden Prison continuously with no reply.  It felt like he had just died. I had no clue what was happening with him, what else I could do, who else I could seek help from. I believe it is a feeling that many others that have travelled this journey will know; the emptiness of your soul. It is a family’s worst nightmare.

However, our journey was about to get harder. We found ourselves in a system that felt like nobody cares. You have to battle your way through every day, every week, every month, every year and yes, I mean battle.
It has been extremely heart wrenching hearing your son's voice on the other end of the phone, while he is locked up for 23 hours a day for no apparent reason. To be told he’s shifting prisons on a whim for no apparent reason. To not be able to get basic essentials to him because they’re sitting in a quarantine room for no apparent reason. When speaking to him through the unfairness of everything, I would gather my thoughts quickly and got him to concentrate on helping others, to shift his focus and try to take his pain away. 

I believe in New Zealand, that no family should go through a trauma of this magnitude. No matter what their loved one is convicted of. The families are not the convicted ones. They’re just trying to do their best for someone they love. And it's that support of the families for inmates that will get them through and encourage them to make positive change for when they are released. We must remember our humanity.

I believe that we need to support these families because until you go through it yourself, you can never understand how bad it is.  That’s why my mission for Social Justice Aotearoa is to guide all families through the system and to help them understand the best way forward using my experiences to make change for every New Zealander that enters this unknown world.

Our mission is to create change and support families for a better, fairer system for all New Zealanders, under our Charitable Trust – Social Justice Aotearoa


Kia Kaha,

Jackie Foster

Jackie Photo-926