Prison Pen Pals

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FOR MANY IT WOULD BE HARD TO IMAGINE EVER FALLING IN LOVE WITH A CONVICTED CRIMINAL...

"There was a couple of really good friends that I lost because pretty much they said if that's the decision you want to make fine and I haven't spoken to them since,” says Michelle.

“I don't think anybody in their right mind chooses a situation, it’s not something you think, I’ll go write to a prisoner and fall in love with him," says Carolyn.

BUT THERE ARE A SURPRISING NUMBER OF WOMEN WHO DO EXACTLY THAT ...

"He was running around in the bush out here with choppers, road blocks, all over the news saying he'd escaped, I thought I wonder what's driving him over the wire,” says Carolyn.
WHEN CONVICTED MURDERER DANIEL HEISS INFAMOUSLY ESCAPED FROM A NORTHERN TERRITORY JAIL IN THE EARLY 90S... SPARKING ONE OF THE BIGGEST MAN HUNTS IN THE TERRITORIES HISTORY.... ASTROLOGIST CAROLYN WILKINSON... BECAME FASCINATED BY HIS ESCAPADES

"The media highlights the elements associated with criminal behavior in a romantic way sometimes," says …..

"I am a curious astrologer and I wanted to know his time of birth, place of birth, and his date of birth, that was the initial impious," adds Carolyn.

FOLLOWING HER INSTINCTS SHE STARTED SENDING LETTERS..... AND HE RESPONDED.

“Our letters got longer and longer and he told me more and more and he really bared his soul to me, He opened up and bared his soul to me and he'd said he'd never done that before but he'd said I'd done that to you," Carolyn says.

CAROLYN BELIEVED HIS PUNISHMENT DIDN'T FIT THE CRIME ...

"He’s guilty as he was there at the scene of the crime yes he was there at the scene of the crime, yet he was present but no he didn't pull the trigger on the person it was his accomplish,’ says Carolyn.

SO FOR 17 YEARS.. SHE DEVOTEDLY KEPT UP THE CORRESPONDENCE ...

"I made the decision I'll stick by it, come hell or high water so I stuck by it and I'm glad I did,” Carolyn sys.

SCHOOL TEACHER MICHELLE JAMES... NEVER IMAGINED FINDING HER FUTURE BOYFRIEND.. BEHIND BARS.

"The whole idea hadn't kind of come into my mind until my friend was arrested it opened me up to a whole new world of what was going on and some of the injustices and support these people need," says Michelle.

THAT FRIEND WAS CONVICTED OF ROBBING A HOTEL ROOM .. A PETTY CRIME SHE BELIEVES WAS AN IMPULSIVE AND STUPID DECISION.

BUT IT WAS HE WHO INTRODUCED MICHELLE TO HIS CELL MATE VIA A SIMPLE LETTER...

"I was kind of a little bit I felt a bit strange getting a letter off someone I'd never met who was serving time in a jail that I hadn't heard of before,’ says Michelle.

JOHN... NOT HIS REAL NAME... WAS SERVING EIGHT YEARS FOR CAUSING GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM DURING A PUB BRAWL ...

"When I first heard that he was in for GBH I thought that's a pretty intense charge to have being against a person, then I started thinking about it and when I actually heard the story and got all the fact sheets given to me, I just started thinking, he's got a hefty sentence for a first offence and for something he didn't initially start," says Michelle.

OVERCOME WITH COMPASSION.. MICHELLE WROTE TO HIM EVERYDAY AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TURNED FROM PLATONIC... TO ROMANTIC...

I started visiting him probably every fortnight, then every week, then I became his sponsor when he went on weekend leave," Michelle says.

ACCORDING TO FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST DR JACK WHITE... IT TAKES A CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON TO BEFRIEND A CRIMINAL ....

"There are probably two types, the first a person who is likely to see the good and potential in everybody and they would see the prisoner as somebody who has that good in them they want to bring out. The other type of person might be more a risk taker who is more inclined in looking at excitement associated with a relationship,” says Doctor White.

IT'S NOT UNCOMMON FOR CRIMINALS TO BE ROMANTICISED... AND EVEN GIVEN CELEBRITY STATUS.....

THE SURVIVING ALLEGED BOSTON BOMBER ...DISTURBINGLY... HAS BEEN MADE INTO A PIN UP BOY BY A NUMBER OF WOMEN.. WHO'VE CREATED DEDICATED FAN PAGES ON SOCIAL MEDIA ... EVEN OFFERING PROPOSALS OF MARRIAGE ... LITTLE THOUGHT SEEMS TO BE GIVEN TO THE ACTS OF TERROR COMMITTED ...

"There is that excitement and bravado that comes along with being associated with somebody who might be a dangerous criminal or violent offender," Doctor White says.

FOR CAROLYN.. IT WAS TWO THINGS .. RISKY BUSINESS ATTRACTED HER BUT SHE ALSO BELIEVED HEISS HAD BEEN A VICTIM OF AN INJUSTICE AND SHE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT HIS STORY....BLOOD ON THE WIRE...

“I said I wanted to write a book and he didn't really want me to write it I felt strongly that about what was happening in the northern territory, to do 19 years and six months and then be taken back to court and be tried for the same crime I thought this is beyond pain," says Carolyn.

IN 2011... AFTER 23 YEARS BEHIND BARS... HE WAS RELEASED ON PAROLE…BUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP SINCE... HAS BEEN SLOW MOVING..

"It's been challenging and we've both lived alone for a long time so there's a lot of compromise but we talk and we communicate well and we try and use humour," says Carolyn.

MICHELLE'S JOHN WAS ALSO FREED IN MARCH THIS YEAR ...

"Since he's come home it's been a little bit it’s got its up and down hills he's trying to adjust in society," says Michelle,

ACCORDING TO DR WHITE.... PRISON RELATIONSHIPS ARE VERY DIFFERENT.... IN THE REAL WORLD.

"The fantasy becomes quite different from the reality it can happen but most of the time those relationships tend to end in some elements of sadness and loss," says Doctor White.

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