Long distance relationships

October 20, 2008 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Prison Reform | Leave a comment

In an article which somehow manages to summon both emotion and analysis, Simon Pellew reminds us that a prisoner’s own family is also a victim of crime, but stresses the important role regular visitations play in the fraught, awkward endeavour to rehabilitate them:

Gary’s girlfriend, Lisa, was in tears. She owed a lot of money, was on medication for depression and Gary still had a year to serve of his sentence for armed robbery. Gary, in desperation, offered to “get out the balaclava” when he got outside.

What will stop him doing another armed robbery? Research published this week by the Ministry of Justice has shown that most prison work is ineffective. Their much-vaunted, and vastly expensive, cognitive behaviour programmes are not making any impact on reoffending rates. The MoJ is facing a cut in its budget of nearly a billion pounds. This will probably be the death knell of these programmes.

The only prison activities that seem to make a difference are: attending a prison job club, victim awareness courses and having contact with a probation officer.

However, there is one factor that makes an even bigger difference – family ties. A prisoner with no family visits has a 70% re-offending rate; those with family visits have a 52% re-offending rate. What could be simpler: keep the family strong and crime goes down. Hollywood is right – men are saved by a good woman.

More here.

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