Thursday, November 04, 2010

Prison today, Devon tomorrow

On my way home from prison this afternoon there was a report on the radio news about the latest report into re-offending. Apparently it was the largest investigation ever done into numbers and there was some amazement at the high proportion of prisoners who re-offend.

I imagine a lot of money was spent on this research. I could have told them the same thing. I spend more time in prison than the average person but it's still only a tiny amount yet I know that you'd have to speak to an awful lot of inmates before you found one who hadn't been in prison before. The majority of the men I have had any dealings with are repeat offenders.

Like the 19-year-old who's spent the last 9 Christmases away from home in secure accommodation of some sort. Or the 40-year-old who's been in and out of prison for the last 25 years.

Maybe it would be more useful of they spent some of the money on preventing the men - young boys - from getting into trouble to begin with. Or funding the work of more people like the community chaplain at Swansea.

The community chaplaincy was piloted at HMP Swansea and has gone on to be copied at other prisons. The chaplain tries to help those men who want help when they get out of prison. Many of them leave with very little money, no job and often nowhere to live. Little surprise they end up going to the pub, meeting up with old friends who offer a floor to sleep on, a bottle to share and drugs to help take away the pain. And in return want help to get the money to pay for the drugs.

The chaplain meets the man outside prison when he's released, takes him to accommodation that's been organised and puts him in touch with people who will support him and help him. While not an infallible system it has been getting good results.

This afternoon we were preparing for the Christmas carol service and there was a touching moment: one of the men in our group expressed his gratitude to one of the others who had helped to teach him to read when he'd been in in 2008.

And tomorrow we're off to Devon at the crack of dawn: Daughter is moving house. Only to the other side of the village but we're going down to help. At least it means they'll have a spare bedroom and we'll be able to sleep over!

See you when we get back.


Gledwood said...

... exactly right, Liz.

Most people I know spend the first £1.20 of their £80 release fee (or whatever it is now) on a bus-ride; £5 goes on a mobile top-up and most of the rest goes to their dealer!

nick said...

Like me, you probably know that the huge jail re-offending rate has been known about for at least fifty years but no government has ever had the intelligence or determination to stop it by introducing effective rehabilitation and work-training programmes. Just another thing that makes me despair of politicians and their endless incompetence.

Anonymous said...

There were no reoffenders when they were shipped to Australia ;-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

The chaplain scheme seems a good one.What a gift the man who learnt to read has received.

Furtheron said...

You miss the point dear girl... if we actually prevent crime and people going to prison just think of the numbers of people who'll be out of work... police, prison officers, all the bureaucrats in the CPS, think of the lawyers and ... see?

Also all politians need a "We are going to do this on law and order" bit to get that side of the Daily Mail or Guardian voting democratic depending on the shade of politics... none of them want a solution - it perpetuates the system and no one gives two hoots about the poor buggers caught in the hamster wheel of it all.

NitWit1 said...

Our prisons are also filled with repeat offenders and there are too few people trying to change the seemingly entrenched trend.

Have a great trip to Devon.

We are leaving again for a one day trip to Little ROck with best friend to see allergis/COPd physician. Luckie is going to ride with us this time!

luxury b&b Devon said...

I think that the draw to re-offending is pretty much the loss of any decent job prospects upon release, you are pretty much limited to earning £15k a year for the rest of your life. If people have found the life of crime to be more profitable in the past, they would rather go back to that and risk being caught than living the rest of their life on a meagre income. Employers should not discriminate unless the job involves sensitive information, potential for abuse or children.