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Recruitment – Building Futures

30/07/2019 16:33:00

The Prison Reform Trust wants to understand what long sentences mean for the people serving them, the families and friends left behind, and the system that is responsible for their care. Then we want to make a difference – to the way of life in prison for people serving very long sentences and to their ability to build a future in the community to which almost all will return.

The Building Futures will be an innovative prisoner-led project. It will give long term prisoners the opportunity and skills to influence the policies and practices that affect them, and to build the bridges between prison and community on which their futures depend.

We are recruiting a programme lead, a research officer and an administrator for this exciting new project, if you would like more information on the project or the application process please click this link.


Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the government's announcement of a sentencing review, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“A review should start with some facts. Sentences for violent and sexual offending have gone up very substantially over the last 15 years. After the appalling fiasco of the discredited IPP sentence introduced in a similar atmosphere in 2003, courts now have the option of extended determinate sentences which do everything the Prime Minister says he wants. And polling over many years has shown that the public consistently underestimates the actual severity of sentencing for serious crime. 

"Stoking up public anxiety with unevidenced assertions is a poor way to start a review that needs to take a dispassionate approach to a complex issue.”

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A new report published today (8 August) by the Prison Reform Trust demonstrates the benefits when prisoners are consulted about how to address areas of concern in prisons.

Prisoners reforming prisons focuses on three important areas of prison life—safety, respectful relationships, and the responsible use of time in prison. The prisoners’ input, summarised in this report, suggests solutions to crucial areas in which prisons’ performance have recently shown a marked decline.

The report is the second in a series under the Prison Reform Trust’s active citizens programme. The findings are based on work between the Prison Reform Trust and individual prisons to establish active citizen panels—providing a structure to consult prisoners about an issue that concerns them in their prison.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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The Winston Churchill Memorial Fund are offering Fellowships in these fields: Arts for the built environment, Education, Emergency response, Enterprise & social impact, Environment, Conservation & sustainable living, Healthcare, Palliative and end of life care, Physical activity for healthier lives, Rural living, Science, Technology & engineering, Suicide prevention. There is an Open Category for anything else. Full details are available on their website.

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the latest safety in custody statistics published today by the Ministry of Justice, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

 “The faint hope that our prison system might have turned a corner has been dashed by these numbers. Prisons are still getting more dangerous as places where people have to live and work.  More people than last year chose to take their own life rather than endure it. When an individual prison hits rock bottom, the government reduces the number of prisoners it holds – but it continues to ignore the obvious truth that it is the prison system as a whole that is grossly overcrowded. Ministers talk about having recruited more staff, but the problem will only be solved by having fewer prisoners.”

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the urgent notification issued by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons at HMYOI Feltham A, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This distressing report stands in stark contrast both to previous evidence of some improvement at Feltham and to a very positive report issued only last week about a larger but otherwise similar Young Offender Institution in the north of England. This huge discrepancy in the quality of care demands the urgent attention of a new Justice Secretary, and the Chief Inspector is right to insist upon that. He helpfully points to the core issue – a need to address the causes of violence and escape the cycle of reacting endlessly to it.”

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the publication of the Incentives Policy Framework by the Ministry of Justice, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“Our work shows that the people who live in prison have a genuine interest in a calm and well-ordered environment where constructive engagement is positively encouraged. This is reflected in much of the research evidence on effective prison regimes. Much heavier sentences means that many of those people are spending many more years of their lives inside. Given the chance, they will make practical suggestions about how to make prisons work better day to day. The fact that every prison will regularly have to bring prisoners and staff together to discuss their local policy on incentives makes sense. It should help to deliver the safe and constructive prison system the public should expect.”

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Prisons need to promote personal growth as an end in itself, not just a means to reduced reoffending, according to a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust today (9 July 2019).

The report, ‘What do you need to make best use of your time in prison?’ is the result of an extensive consultation exercise with over 1,250 people with experience of prison.

The report is the second of the Prison Reform Trust’s Prisoner Policy Network—a group of current serving prisoners, ex-prisoners and connected organisations who want to share their expertise and experience with policy makers.

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Picture credit: Erika Flowers

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Commenting on today’s (3 July 2019) publication of new definitive guidelines for arson and criminal damage offences by the Sentencing Council, Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust said:

“A significant proportion of people who commit arson have a mental health need, learning disability or autism. This guideline highlights the importance of courts obtaining a proper assessment of any underlying mental health condition or disorder before deciding the degree to which someone can be held responsible for what happened, and sets out a clear process for doing so, including full engagement with liaison and diversion services. This should lead to the fairer and more appropriate treatment of vulnerable defendants in our courts.”

Click here to read our submission to the Sentencing Council's consultation on the draft guidelines.

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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PRT comment: HMP Brixton

02/07/2019 00:01:00

Commenting on today's inspection report on conditions at HMP Brixton, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“There is much to praise in what has been achieved at Brixton by the Governor, staff and prisoners working together. But filling almost a third of the prison with men convicted of sexual offences was an expedient measure that did not have the best interest of those men at its heart. As intended, it will have contributed more than this report acknowledges to reductions in drug use and violence.

“The bottom line is that, like many other inner city prisons, Brixton risks being a resettlement prison in name only. A third of prisoners are being released with nowhere to live, and no-one is allowed out of the prison to work, learn, find a job or a home. Release on temporary licence is an essential tool for successful resettlement—keeping that tool locked away in the box is scarcely a matter for congratulation.”

Photo credit: David Anstiss / Wall of H.M. Prison Brixton / CC BY-SA 2.0

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