Wood Chopping December 2020 - Prisoner Training & Placements


Mrs. H, from Budleigh Salterton, contacted me this week in a heightened state of festive goodwill. She is very kindly going to donate her annual fuel allowance to LandWorks (as she has done every year) and asked if I could explain the complex number of differing sentences that we have worked with at LandWorks this year.

What a good idea… This is quite hard to explain without de-humanising our placements here, but that in itself is an issue with the criminal justice system.

Since January 1st 2020 we have provided 28 placements and supported around 80 graduates.

Just a few examples…

Sam: He attended LandWorks on a daily ROTL (Release on Temporary License), day release from prison, until the first lockdown came. He was released from prison in October. Currently the prison remains on a level 3 alert, so no more ROTLs at LandWorks, until level 2.

Joe: Is here completing his community sentence, 180 hours of “unpaid work”. At LandWorks we try to make those hours support rehabilitation as much as possible, rather than what otherwise could be considered just an exercise in punishment, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Beth: Was here for a short time on a probation order. Designed to support Beth as part of her addiction work, combined with other agencies. This proved to be too early in her journey of change and she relapsed. We hope to see Beth here again soon.

Jacob: Was referred to us by a deeply concerned member of his family at the start of the year. Sadly, once we discovered his offending history, we were not able to accept Jacob. We always want to be able to help, but for some people the level of risk they present is just too high for mixing with other trainees, staff and volunteers.

Bob: Attends LandWorks on license after release from prison. He had heard about LandWorks whilst inside HMP. We were able to support him into accommodation and employment.

Glen: Has a drug rehabilitation order, this means that Glen avoided a custodial sentence but once a month he must report to his sentencing judge at crown court and explain how he has been over the previous few weeks, drug free obviously.

Sandra: Is just desperate for her son to attend… Unfortunately (or probably fortunately) he has not committed a crime. So, no.

Henry: Who prefers to be known as Hen, has 26 Rehabilitation Activity Requirements or RAR’s. These often run in tandem with unpaid hours, but Hen just has RAR’s. These activities are awarded by a judge or magistrate and should in some way deal with the underlying issues around offending e.g. drinking and anger issues!

Adnan: Has a home detention curfew or an HDC tag. This means he has a big watch like electronic surveillance tag around his ankle. He was released from prison a few months early and he is under probation supervision. Adnan must reside in an approved dwelling for a 12hr curfew and is still ultimately the responsibility of HMP. If he breaches the curfew, he will go straight back to prison.

Eric: Has been referred to us by NHS Mental Health support. He has a suspended sentence (18 months over two years) hovering over him. Should Eric get into trouble in the next two years the sentence would be activated, and he would serve half the sentence in prison (9 months).

Ian: Well, Ian has pretty much got a full house! Unpaid hours, RAR’s and a suspended sentence all combined in one. But Ian was convinced he would get a custodial sentence. So, basically (as is so common), he only heard the judge say you’re not going to prison, you’re off the hook, swerved doing time, essentially a free man and can do as he pleases. Of course, that’s not what the judge said, and we will be steadily and patiently explaining this to Ian.

Perhaps an opportunity for a chat will occur as Ian and I split wood together. So we can deliver a bag of logs to Mrs. H, just in case the festive period proves to be a little chilly.


10th December 2020