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.