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Jonathan Aitken is

Eddie Mair | 11:57 UK time, Monday, 12 November 2007

at pains to stress that his appointment to head a study for a prison reform think-tank is not all about him.

"I have been at pains to say that this is not an ego trip for me. It's certainly not a political comeback. "What it is is an assignment, a job which I've been asked to do, to head a team of very distinguished experts."

On our programme tonight, Andrew Bomford will have a report for you on prisons. As he tells it:

"Being a father is difficult when you are behind bars. Many prison-dads lose touch with their children and partners, and once they're released having no stable home to go to is likely to increase re-offending. At Wandsworth Prison in South west London they've come up with a novel idea for helping counter this problem. Once a week children are allowed into the prison if they bring their homework with them to do with their dads." Andrew has had access to the Homework Club. You can hear his report tonight. Here are a couple of snaps to go with it..




  1. At 01:11 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    I'm keen to hear this piece. As I see it, it has a number of "up-sides" with very little "down". After all, we're constantly hearing that the breakdown of the family is detrimental to society. By maintaining the link between parents and children like this, it means that the children will remain in contact with their fathers, so that there is less need to re-adjust when the fathers come out and are living at home. Second, for the fathers, it is a chance to keep a family together and still be a part of the child's life as they grow up. Finally, the act of doing homework together means that the visits have a purpose to them, rather than just an hour of awkward silences. If this truly does help to cut re-offending rates among released prisoners, it should be lauded.

  2. At 01:30 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Me too, FF!

  3. At 01:45 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Fiona wrote:

    I totally agree FF.

  4. At 01:45 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    And me, FF & EI.

  5. At 01:58 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Charlie wrote:

    Absolutely right FF and perhaps, the children seeing, on a frequent basis, what can be the result of crime, will do their utmost not to commit any

    The fathers, seeing on a regular basis what they're missing-out on, might also be less likely to re-offend

    All of which is easily said and ignores, in many cases the underlying social issues which need to be addressed at many levels

    However, this scheme seems a realistic start for those who've already offended

    The staff at "Wandsworth" really are to be congratulated

    This is the first piece of positive news about practical prisoner rehabilitation I've heard in many years

    It'll be interesting to hear Jonathen Aitken's take on what else needs to be done and will likely be done by Government to ensure that ex-prisoners, who want to, are able to earn a living and support their families

    The appointment of Jonathen Aitken as "Think Tank head may well prove to be inspirational. I hope so

    I wish him and the other Prison Reform Think Tank Members well

    And, like you FF, I'm looking forward to the report

  6. At 03:51 PM on 12 Nov 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    ...FF has hit the nail on the head..I just hope Aitkin's past baggage doesn't distract and detract everyone else from a worthwhile venture.


  7. At 05:29 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Cassassa wrote:

    No hook (yet) for the eco-hat so I'll whip it off re the prisons report. Congratulations.

    Re Mr Aitken - am I missing something? It seems perfectly logical, if not entirely sensible, to ask a bloke with experience. Could be a first!

  8. At 05:44 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    My first thought on this is a resounding 'hurrah!' in that the children see their fathers in a way that has benefit for both parties. Thus far I am entirely in favour, and salute whoever thought this up and everyone who implements it.

    My second thought was slightly less positive, alas. I simply cannot help wondering whether if they hadn't been in prison, and greatly looked forward to seeing their children once a week because they had no distractions from them such as mates, telly, pub, and whatever led to their arrests and convictions, these caring fathers would have set aside the same amount of time for their children and doing homework.

    I'd love to think that they would, but really? Regularly? If the alternative is having fun with their friends? I hope that now these particular dads have been effectively forced to give 'quality time' to their children, and discovered that it can be fun, they will keep up the practice when they are released from prison, but oh, it would have been so much better if they'd given that time to their children of their own accords, and maybe kept out of prison as well or even as a result.

    ('Sorry mate, I can't help you rob the bank on Thursday, my lad is playing foorball and I promised I'd go along and cheer for him.' A blissful image... But somehow it doesn't quite ring true.)

  9. At 06:21 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Now Chris, You know about 'might have been'...


    Underlying Principle of Socio-Genetics:
    Superiority is recessive.

  10. At 07:09 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Ed @ 9, um, "Daddy says always grab a chance and you'll never be sorry for a might-have-been" (Arthur Ransome, *We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea*)? Wouldn't mugging your neighbour be grabbing a chance?

  11. At 08:23 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    When I saw the title of this thread I thought we were being invited to finish the sentence. May I?

  12. At 08:56 PM on 12 Nov 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    G'wan, Appers, goferit!

    Except I thought Aitken had already finished the sentence.

  13. At 10:20 AM on 13 Nov 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Tee hee Fishers (12) :-D

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