IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Reintegration of Offenders

Prison represents a serious restriction on the rights of the prisoner, quite apart from the deprivation of liberty. 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. Losing contact with family, employment and social or community services and networks, even for a short period, can have long-lasting negative effects. 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.

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

Management of Sex Offenders 12th October 2010

The Dept of Justice and Law Reform has published a 'Summary of views received on The Management of Sex Offenders - A Discussion Document' including, where appropriate, a response by the Department and an update as to what action has been taken in light of the consultative process. Read more

UK: Plans for prisoners to work 40-hour week 6th October 2010

Announcements have been made this week about plans to get prisoners working a full 40-hour week instead of spending their days in "enforced idleness" in prison cells. However, the extent to which such proposals would be workable in chronically overcrowded Irish prisons is less clear. Read more

RADE: Recovery through Art, Drama and Education 30th September 2010

RADE (Recovery through Art, Drama and Education) are hosting two events. The first is a Retrospective Art Exhibition (NCAD, until 23 Oct) and the second is a film screening for Social Inclusion Week (18-22 Oct 2010) on 20 Oct, 2010. Read more

Collateral Costs: Incarceration's effect on Economic Mobility 28th September 2010

In the United States, the Pew Charitable Trusts have released a new report examining the impact of incarceration on the economic opportunity and mobility of former inmates and their families. Read more

Reintegration of Prisoners in Ireland: New Research Findings 1st September 2010

An article featured in the Irish Probation journal, which is co-authored by Agnieszka Martynowicz and Martin Quigley, presents the findings of a study of the provision of reintegration support for prisoners leaving custody in Ireland which was carried out for IPRT. Read more