inside connections FI
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Service user launches new prison family support app

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John Burton developed his entrepreneurial skills in prison and has launched a new app designed to help prisoners' families understand & cope with prison rules.

Inside Connections

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.

You can find out more about John from this article on the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (MCRC) website.

In addition to praising his offender manager Andy Fennell for supporting his journey to desistance, 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 praised 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.

The app

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. The video below gives an excellent overview of the range of services


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.”


It’s great to see the recent proliferation of apps aimed to help people in prison and on probation and their family and even more heartening to see one developed by a service user.

You can follow John’s company on Twitter: @insideconnect25

You can download the Android version of the app here

The apple version is currently in development.


All innovation posts are kindly sponsored by Socrates 360 which provides a complete solution for staff, prisoners, probationers, etc. combining engaging content, simple set-up and an easy tracking system. Socrates 360 has no influence over editorial content.

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