In the UK, the Prison Reform Trust, supported by the Pilgrim Trust, has published a report on the factors behind resettlement beyond the prison gates. With re-conviction rates at 57% for those on sentences of less than 12 months, the question of effective reintegration is a burning issue. Some facts from the report:
- 79% of offenders who are homeless at the time they go to prison are reconvicted, compared to 47% who have accommodation
- Over half of prisoners report that their drug-taking is a factor in acquisitive offences such as shoplifting, vehicle crime and theft
- Only 36% of people leaving prison go into a job, educational course or training
- 48% of prisoners are at, or below, the level expected of an 11 year old in reading, 65% in numeracy and 82% in writing
Taking the views of all those involved from prisoners to governors, the report concludes that engaging directly with prisoners on their future, and ceding responsibility to them, is a more effective tool than simply talking at, or doing for – strategies which create detachment.
You can read the report here. The findings tie in nicely with the Discovering Desistance project previously mentioned on the blog – an ESRC-funded project which aims to discover better, more effective ways of reducing the likelihood of re-offending. The issue of coming back to the community after imprisonment was also tackled recently at the Scribani conference on Re-Imagining Imprisonment in Europe. The talents of the U-Casadh group from Waterford were put to good use as they performed a play on the fears of entering and leaving prison.