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Guardian: Reducing reoffending need not cost the earth

16th December 2010

The results of the Choose Change project showed that only 14% of offenders were rearrested within three months of release compared to 24% of comparable offenders who were not on the scheme, which starts in prison with volunteer case workers mentoring offenders "through the gate" and for three months after release.

The two key elements of the project are that it starts providing support when the offender is inside the prison and follows through into the period of release, and because the scheme is run through the Probation Trust it doesn't require millions of pounds of investment. It costs just £2,000 to put an offender through the project.

Since Ken Clarke made his announcement we have heard of similar projects taking place in individual prisons across the UK, but none that work with existing agencies. The Choose Change project case workers are able to bridge the gap between the support provided on the inside and what is needed on release. Each case worker continues to mentor their client as much or as little is needed.

As the rehabilitation revolution debate develops so does a greater emphasis on the UK turning "soft on criminals" as people fear support will replace punishment. However, it is this lack of guidance that keeps the door of reoffence revolving as these individuals face the same problems they did before they went into prison.

Research prior to the development of the Choose Change Project revealed that people in Manchester didn't want offenders to escape punishment, but they agreed that without any support or guidance, those repeat offenders with no permanent address, no job or with drug or alcohol problems would be more likely to reoffend. It is these offenders who are most in need of help to return to a normal life.

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  • See the original Guardian article here.
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