Government unit sets out plans to reduce re-offending rates

Measures aimed at tackling high rates of re-offending by former
prisoners have been published by the social exclusion unit this

The SEU’s report highlights concern over the latest figures that
show 58 per cent of released prisoners were convicted of another
crime within two years. Seventy-two per cent of 18 to 20-year-old
male prisoners were reconvicted over the same period.

Under the new proposals, offenders would be asked to sign a
contract at the beginning of their sentence setting out what was
expected of them in prison and the community. The going straight
contract would initially be piloted on young offenders aged 18 to
20, and extended to other groups if successful.

The contract would include a full-time package of rehabilitation
programmes and support, tailored to the individual and based on an
assessment of the factors that lead to re-offending.

The programme, which should include rewards for participation
and sanctions for non-participation, should be drawn up and
overseen by a case manager.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott said: “Prisoners are being
presented with a contract. We offer them the support they need to
get over the problems that contribute to crime in the first place.
In return they have to take responsibility for their actions and
work on their problems,” he added.

The SEU report shows that most prisoners experience social
exclusion before entering prison. They are 13 times more likely
than the general population to have been in care as a child, and 60
to 70 per cent were using drugs before imprisonment. More than 70
per cent suffer from at least two mental disorders and more than
half of all male prisoners have no qualifications.

Prisons should develop procedures to secure better housing,
health, education, employment and family contact, the report says.
Prison resettlement departments should have the ability to secure
emergency accommodation for prisoners, and the discharge grant,
used to cover the period before the first benefit payment, should
be increased.

The government’s response to the report will be published in the
summer. Paul Cavadino, chief executive of rehabilitation agency
Nacro, said he hoped the report would be implemented in full: “At
present, arrangements to resettle ex-prisoners are patchy,
underfunded, and for many short-term prisoners non-existent.”

Reducing Re-offending by Ex-Prisoners available from


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