Resettlement prisons introduced in bid to cut reoffending

 

Justice Minister Damian Green says a scheme in Peterborough has reduced reoffending by 5%

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Offenders in England and Wales will be moved to prisons near where they live before they are released, under plans announced by the Ministry of Justice.

So-called resettlement jails, aimed at cutting re-offending, will house most male prisoners from autumn 2014.

There are plans for 70 such prisons, with a trial of the new system planned in north-west England later this year.

The justice secretary said the current system was "hopeless"; Labour queried how the changes would be funded.

Under the plans, existing facilities in England and Wales will become resettlement prisons.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said it would mean those in jail could start "working towards their rehabilitation" from the moment they were imprisoned.

Prisoners serving 12 months or under will serve all of their time in a resettlement prison and receive a "tailored package of supervision and support" on their release.

Inside a prison cell Ministers want every offender to be supervised on release

The majority of inmates serving longer sentences would be moved to a resettlement prison at least three months before the end of their time in custody, the government said.

"Rehabilitation in the community must begin behind the prison walls and follow offenders out through the gates if we are to stand a chance of freeing them from a life of crime," Mr Grayling said.

"Currently a local area could expect to receive offenders from dozens of prisons across the country - this is hopeless.

'Right direction'

"It is little wonder we have such high reoffending rates when you have a prisoner leaving HMP Liverpool, given a travel permit to get them home to the south coast, and then expected to simply get on with it."

Women prisoners are not covered by the plans and are subject to a separate review, which will report later this year.

The government recently announced plans to make every prisoner in England and Wales complete a year-long period of supervision with private, charity and voluntary sector organisations bidding to carry out the work under a system of payment-by-results.

Start Quote

Prisoners from London are currently scattered all over the country, many miles from their family and friends, making this policy announcement meaningless for them”

End Quote Sadiq Khan Shadow justice secretary

Paul McDowell, chief executive of crime reduction charity Nacro and a former governor of Brixton Prison, said: "We are still sending too many people to prison when they could be better dealt with in the community - especially many of those serving short prison sentences.

"But putting communities at the heart of the criminal justice system through the development of resettlement prisons is a step in the right direction."

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said: "Resettlement and rehabilitation do matter but, until and unless you reserve prison for serious and violent offenders, you cannot hope to cut sky-high reoffending rates or maintain safe and decent regimes.

"Given the pace and scale of change, ministers focused on developing the justice market could easily lose sight of the solutions that lie outside of prison bars in health, housing and employment."

Labour said it welcomed the idea of resettlement prisons in principle, but said the plans were "another example of reality being very different from rhetoric".

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: "These plans amount to a substantial reorganisation of our prisons system, and it's not clear how it will be funded. Nor is it clear what will happen in London where there is an estimated shortfall of 8,000 places.

"Prisoners from London are currently scattered all over the country, many miles from their family and friends, making this policy announcement meaningless for them."

 

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  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 382.

    My father works with newly released long term prisioners in a "half way house" run by the Probation service. Tenants are on curfew & bound by restrictions under licence. Most of them will try and flout their restrictions...its human nature to do so I suppose. But my Dad & his colleagues give lots of practical support and majority of the tenants leave better placed to live life outside prision.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 314.

    Reoffending has nothing to do with what's inside a prison; but how it compares to what's outside.

  • rate this
    +19

    Comment number 278.

    At £30k/year to keep a prisoner inside jail (not to mention the legal costs of the prosecution etc.) we should be doing everything we can to prevent reoffending.

    In fact we should be regardless of the cost, just for the benefit of society.

    I think the whole system of who gets jail terms needs to be looked at. Surely there are more constructive solutions than locking everyone up?

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 93.

    What people must realise is that it is not, in fact, prison which is the punishment, it is the 'removal from society'. As these people will still be removed from society, it matters little where they are incarcerated.

  • rate this
    +49

    Comment number 69.

    @38 I work for the prison service, I see it on a daily basis. I talk to the people that this thread is about. Prisoners do the courses, because the courts say they have to, not because they have any interest in changing. Yes there are the one offs, they come in they do their time and we never see them again, but most are on the proverbial revolving door, because thats the life they choose

 

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