So, the Sentencing White Paper has been published and a man has stood up in public and promoted being tough on crime and a need for yet more warehousing of humanity, but not on the famous causes of crime/recidivism ….. many of which are of his government’s own making, such as a lack of suitable accommodation for prisoners on release (some accommodation for many would be a start) and a failure sufficiently to fund training to equip institutionalised residents with adequate vocations skills when they transition ex-gate.
But we all know that signing a £ multi million contract with a property developer on a scheme (that the National Audit Office will say in just 3 years time was not good value for money) is easier and more attractive to this government’s heartlanders than actually managing the mayhem that is community transition. Be clear, I am not for a moment criticising prison OMUs here. You try doing your very best for your charges when you have one hand – sometimes two – tied behind your back.
Our view is that prisoners approaching the end of their sentences need an array of ETE offerings at their disposal to enable them of gain a foothold back in society when they leave prison. We want them to be good neighbours – as most departing offenders also do. We want them to have responsibilities and pay taxes and to get their lives – and, crucially, their family life – back under control. As most ex-offenders also do.
Our modest offering is to provide self-employment training, but, of course, there are a multitude of other options out there. However what is undeniable from extensive CJS research evidence is that – where possible – involving families in the transition process provides a core glue.
We firmly believe that the more positive feedback and commitment interlocks ex-offenders secure with family, friends or colleagues, the more likely it is they will stay driven and focused – and successfully decouple from their pasts.
It’s not an easy journey – but that journey can be smoothed, supported and encouraged by multiple hands.