Reintegration of Offenders

IPRT promotes rehabilitation and social integration as central concerns of Irish penal policy.

Incarceration often damages the prisoner’s social functioning, therefore contributing to his or her return to offending following release. Studies have shown that imprisonment has a damaging effect on the mental health of the prisoners, and can impair the ability to function in the outside world; prisoners can become institutionalised and therefore unable to live outside of the prison environment.

Imprisonment also carries with it profound negative social impacts on the prisoner’s family and on his or her community, and often the consequences of even a short period of imprisonment are permanent for both the prisoner and those close to him. Research has shown that those communities to which most ex-prisoners return are those characterised by high levels of deprivation and least able to cope with their re-entry. IPRT believes that imprisonment can exacerbate such difficulties within such communities.

In this context, IPRT believes that appropriate preparation for release and post-release support play an important role in the successful return of former prisoners to their families, communities and the wider society. Two elements should always be considered: preparation during the course of the sentence (‘sentence-planning’) and coordinated support post-release. Preparation for release while still in prison should consider not only equipping prisoners with essential skills (such as work skills), but should also include making connections with the prisoner’s family and/or community outside of the prison environment, for example through the use of periods of temporary release.

IPRT believes that post-release support is crucial in the successful re-integration, and should link the former prisoner not only with potential employment opportunities but also with appropriate services in the community, for example with mental health services or substance abuse support groups. It should also consider support for prisoners’ families.

Storybook Dads: maintaining family bonds 10th August 2011 YouTube

Storybook Dads is a project run in prisons which helps maintain the vital emotional bond between prisoners and their children by helping offenders to record bedtime stories on CDs and DVDs: "Keeping families together helps to reduce re-offending by up to six times." Read more

The Social Reintegration of Ex-Prisoners in CoE Member States 28th June 2011

A report from the Quaker Council of European Affairs highlights different reintegration and rehabilitation practices for prisoners in all Council of Europe states including Ireland. Read more

UK: Inside Job - Creating a market for real work in prison 13th June 2011

A new report from Policy Exchange outlines how prisoners who work a full 40-hour week could contribute to victim compensation, pay tax and establish a 'resettlement fund' for when they are released. Read more

What's the risk?Employing Young Adults with Criminal Convictions 11th May 2011

A new study published today has acknowledged businesses in the UK which are actively trying to improve opportunities for offenders to get back into employment. Read more

UK: UNLOCK submission to Breaking the Cycle 4th March 2011

UNLOCK, the National Association of Reformed Offenders (UK), has just published its response to the Green Paper on 'Breaking the Cycle'. A number of UNLOCK's recommendations are of interest as Ireland moves towards passing similar legislation. Read more

Guardian: Reducing reoffending need not cost the earth 16th December 2010

As Ken Clarke announced his green paper on prison reform in the UK, the Choose Change project launched the results of the first two years of its three year rehabilitation programme to reduce the number of reoffenders leaving HMP Manchester. Read more

Re-offending Statistics in England and Wales 11th November 2010

The UK’s Ministry of Justice recently released a paper entitled Compendium of Re-offending Statistics and Analysis aiming to reliably compare proven reoffending rates between offenders receiving short custodial sentences and offenders commencing a court order under probation supervision. Read more

Impact Personality Disorder Project 28th October 2010

Camden and Islington NHS mental health trust have formed a partnership with the London Probation Service aiming to reduce the recidivism rates and recall into prison of offenders with high risk personality disorders upon release into the community. Read more

Prisoners' Financial Inclusion 27th October 2010

'Time is Money: financial responsibility after prison' is a recent report released by the Prison Reform Trust and UNLOCK in the UK highlighting the importance of maintaining prisoners' financial inclusion in society, stressing the importance of such in order to help reintegrate offenders into society. Read more

UK Campaign: Change the Record 21st October 2010

'Change the Record' is a new campaign to help ex-offenders back to work by tackling discriminatory practice and laws that prevent them finding a job. The campaign focuses on amending the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Read more

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