“Yeah, I’m starting to feel a bit better, less thoughts about committing crime.”
Years ago, I would be really pleased to hear this, it meant our reoffending rates would remain low.
Now I listen and understand the nuance a little more clearly, it is evidence that LandWorks support in resettlement and rehabilitation is working (our reoffending rate remains below 5%).
Steadily I’ve become more interested in the language use. People aren’t saying to me ‘oh, I’ve stopped committing crime because that punishment worked’, or ‘prison scared me and stopped me reoffending’, or ‘community service provided the lesson I really needed’.
But they do say things like… “Chris, my life’s better now, I am feeling good, quite settled”
They describe the journey with LandWorks and our support beyond, in terms of their health, e.g. they are feeling well, better, stable, calmer, clean (free of substance), rather than negative feelings of reprimand. LandWorks does not deliver punishment, we provide an environment for an individual to improve their wellbeing, mental health and find more stability in life… This is what reduces re-offending. Yes, people need to be held to account for their actions, but – critically – we see every day the amount of support they need to get out of their chaotic and ‘unhealthy’ lives.
The Ministry of Justice manages the justice process from end to end – from the moment a suspect has been charged, through the courts, to prison and probation if necessary. Created in 2007, the ministry is responsible for criminal law and sentencing policy, for legal aid, reducing re-offending, and for prisons and probation. As a society we seem obsessed with punishment, a desire for retribution, not to be seen as soft on crime. This has become so ingrained that it could be argued that a culture of punishment exists institutionally within the MOJ, which makes delivering effective rehabilitation difficult. When in doubt, the system will always put punishment first.
“I needed help Chris, not told every day that I was criminal.”
The element of punishment is surely at the moment of sentencing, by imposing a loss of liberty with a prison sentence or imposing a loss of free time with a community sentence.
The MOJ is charged with delivering justice for society and from what I see on a daily basis at LandWorks this is not compatible with delivering rehabilitation for offenders. I would suggest that the sentence, as decided by the judge or magistrate in the court, whether this is to be carried out in prison or served in the community, should then be recognised and dealt with as a public health matter.
“Thing is Chris, you can’t just expect broken people to fix themselves it doesn’t work like that.”
So, is it time for a different government department to be responsible for delivering rehabilitation?
The MOJ overseeing the administration of justice, but a separate department, with a different ethos, leading the reduction of reoffending. A department focused on the overall health and welfare of those involved, the Department for Health and Social Care?? Could that work?
Who knows where this could lead… fewer people committing crime and we could all feel better?
5th August 2021