Disproportionate restrictions on the temporary release of prisoners are undermining opportunities for effective resettlement and rehabilitation and leading to growing frustration and resentment behind bars, a new report by the Prison Reform Trust reveals.
For many people in prison, particularly those who are serving long sentences, the chance to experience ROTL and open prison conditions are a pivotal part of the process of rehabilitation. They allow people to take responsibility through work and volunteering, establish contact with families and sort out housing needs; factors which contribute to their safe management and supervision in the community on release.
Last week’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on prisoners’ voting reinforces previous judgments of the Court that the UK’s blanket ban on sentenced prisoners voting is unlawful.
But with three months to go before the UK general election, it’s clear that the government would rather flout human rights law, ignore the advice of prison governors, bishops to, and inspectors of, prisons and take up Parliamentary time and taxpayers’ money in order to stop sentenced prisoners from acting responsibly by voting in democratic elections.
Fewer than one in 10 women released from a prison sentence of under 12 months managed to secure a ‘positive employment outcome’ within a year of release. This is three times worse than the equivalent figure for men, a new briefing published by the Prison Reform Trust reveals.
Welcome moves announced today (Thursday 29 January) by the Justice Minister Simon Hughes to prioritise women’s community provision and improve employment opportunities for women offenders need to be accelerated if women’s offending is to be effectively tackled.
Nearly half (45%) of women leaving prison are reconvicted within one year of release. Employment is vital to reducing risk of reoffending, but women offenders often face additional barriers to gaining work, including a lack of childcare support, lack of qualifications, low pay and the stigma of imprisonment.
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The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice, delivered a keynote address at an event jointly hosted by the Prison Reform Trust and Centre for Social Justice on Monday 26 January. You can read a copy of the speech by clicking 'read more'.
The Prison Reform Trust in partnership with leading thinktanks has provided platforms to the three main political parties for them to outline their justice proposals ahead of the 2015 general election. PRT believes there is scope for political consensus on prison reform. Parties wish to see decent, fair and purposeful prisons, a reduction in women's imprisonment, liaison and diversion services for people with mental health needs or learning disabilities and increased use of restorative justice.
Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP set out Labour prisons policy last year at an event hosted by PRT and IPPR. You can read his speech by clicking here. Liberal Democrat justice minister, Simon Hughes MP, also delivered a speech at an event hosted with CentreForum which you can read by clicking here.