The Big House 1024x576 - Prisoner Training & Placements


I’ve been recovering from Covid for a few days, and this is one of the conversations I had over the phone during that time…

“Chris (I can tell he’s close to tears) will I ever be free of this, am I just a criminal? I’m trying hard, so f’@#king hard to make my life work, it’s nearly ten years since I was acting a prick.”

Rob committed a crime in 2013. Finished his prison sentence in 2017. Completed his licence in 2019, yet as the law currently stands it will never be ‘spent’. He has to declare the crime for the rest of his life.

Truth is it’s hard, very hard, to move on…

But then we really get talking, agreeing that prison was completely the wrong environment. In fact, a traumatic environment that made the situation worse.

The ripple effect of one criminal conviction has many detrimental consequences, devastating relationships and families, with job losses, accommodation issues (to name a few) and precious little restoration for victims.

Rob wondered how different his experience could have been if instead of being labelled as criminal he was seen as ‘unwell’… with help, compassion and time he could have become ‘well’.

So, what to do?

We agreed that the criminal justice system (CJS) was not working in anyone’s interests… We imagined the CJS to be like a big old house, one built on completely the wrong foundations. For years it’s had its rooms redecorated, new extensions added, cracks plastered over, all in an attempt to make it work.

It can’t work, it’s structurally flawed… the crumbling CJS house needs knocking down, new foundations, a new build, and a completely new approach, with health at its core.

Rob saw the community aspect of LandWorks as his saviour because he was accepted for who he was. Someone in difficulty, who needed time, space and help to get better. He was not seen as criminal but had to face up to what he had done and to acknowledge there had been victims.

He said it was this knowledge that kept him going, just knowing we were still there, somewhere good in his life. A community that he had been part of, one that had given him foundations to tackle the difficulties ahead, a community that he no longer played an active part in but was still with him.

I asked him to describe LandWorks…. “Well Chris, it’s like you’ve built your collection of wooden buildings and huts in the garden of the CJS house. But it’s quite separate from the house and you’re showing them what real resettlement could look like.”

Anyway, my fever’s gone and I’m starting to get better.


10th March 2022