“Mate (Aussie accent), I’ve read your little blog thing for years and mate, all you do is moan. Why don’t you ever say how you would fix it?”
Right-oh, good – always encouraging to get readers participation.
So, ‘fair dinkum’ mate, here is my reply…
On many occasions, I’ve been told (over 200 placements now) that a prison sentence saved an individual. Lifted them out of the madness, stopped it all.
And yes, in many cases it has, but evidence shows that prison doesn’t achieve anything substantive. It places people into an insanely complex criminal world, where prisoners are left to justify their crimes to each other. They are rarely encouraged to confront the underlying issues.
So, mate, top things that would improve the system. Our source is from all the discussions over the last ten years, led by people who are caught up in the Criminal Justice System.…
- Change sentencing guidelines. Less custodial, more funded meaningful community sentencing, e.g., do not send people with health issues to prison, including mental health, which encompasses addiction. Prison is not the right environment.
- Allow people, who are in prison and who engage with self-improvement or appropriate resettlement support, to attain significant early release.
- Accommodation… essential to have in place before leaving prison.
- Do not reduce the level of Universal Credit benefits, but please increase the differential between take home ‘living wage’ pay and benefits… work must be significantly more rewarding than reasonable benefit support.
- Proper community support. Accept that post release supervision by Probation Officers (real humans) is essential. Increase the number of Probation Officers and return to the expectation that building good individual trust relationship is essential to resettlement.
- Use the dormant parts of the HM Prison estate (or other wasted space) to create Prison Leavers Centres, based on the LandWorks principles of successful resettlement. Having a ‘Place’, something that’s tangible and real, something to be and feel a part of… something to be proud of. That is an essential.
Overriding all the above: I would suggest that we need a national debate on punishment versus resettlement.
We are capable of being better than this.
‘Ripper mate’… is of course the reply I’m expecting.
8th June 2023