We in the UK are tough on crime, as a nation we have one of the highest rates of incarceration per capita of the Western developed nations.
Our tough stance on criminal justice has seen our prison population numbers steadily creep up to eighty thousand people.
Less than seven thousand of those prisoners are serving whole life tariffs, and the vast majority of prisoners will be released back into the community one day.
Perhaps they will be your neighbour, or mine?
Is it possibly time that as a society, we begin to examine what type of neighbours we are creating?
My name is Chris. I work for a local homeless charity based here in Sheffield. I am in recovery from drugs and alcohol and have been clean and sober for five years.
I was released on licence from prison in the summer of 2017, serving half of a forty-four month sentence.
Prison definitely changed me for the better but it is deeply flawed.
I was one of the rare lucky ones, prison staff took a punt on me, organised a job, (where I happily remain today) provided me with some support and a week’s accommodation for me in a hotel upon my release.
This was most unusual. Only 17%, a paltry amount of recently released prisoners have accommodation for their first night.
A staggering miniscule 4% are employed six weeks upon release.
These stats, taken from the Government’s website are a shocking indictment of where we are going wrong.
In the current trend we are creating bitter, angry and frequently mentally ill neighbours, who feel ostracised, detached from a community that they are supposed to care about and feel part of.
A cursory look at the definition of rehabilitation says “taking away the desire to offend”
And to “Design the punishment, so as to achieve this”
I often find myself feeling guilty at the gratitude I have for my life now – my home, new family, job and comforts.
I wonder how many more like me could there be, if they had the same support as I?
My desire to offend has truly been removed, but only because I am part of society now and I never would hurt it again.
Surely the victims of crimes themselves would sleep a little easier, knowing the offender is being rehabilitated and less likely to harm society again.
Here are some support groups and initiatives that we work with to support ex-offenders:
The Beyond the Walls Initiative is part of Shakespeare Unbard which works with those caught up in the criminal justice system and offers them the opportunity to set up and run a collaboratively-owned theatre company
In2Change deliver education programmes to targeted disadvantaged families, ex-offenders and young people.
Courses include: employability skills, basic skills, personal development and customer service. Tasters in nail art, hospitality, sport and construction are also available.
The Sheffield Project is located in central Sheffield. We provide accommodation and support for vulnerable and homeless individuals, most specifically support for current offenders, ex-offenders, those at risk of offending and those with complex needs.
Target Housing Rotherham is a supported accommodation project, primarily for current offenders, ex-offenders or those at risk of offending. The project offers fully furnished, mainly shared, and some single unit accommodation across the Rotherham Borough for up to two years. The support worker will work with the service user on a client led support plan and risk assessment identifying areas that are preventing them from sustaining independent living.
The Timpson Foundation specialises in the recruitment of marginalised groups within society as well as supporting numerous other socially minded projects.
NACRO work effectively to deliver the right results. We support people to achieve meaningful outcomes. We house and support vulnerable people including young people, adults and families, and help them to move on through our National Homes Agency.
Inspire to Change is a programme for men and women who have been abusive, controlling or violent towards their partner. The course combines learning and support tailored to an individuals need.
CGL Rotherham is a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults in Rotherham.
Wise Ability assists customers to develop important life skills, work ready skills, strategies and confidence to overcome their challenges and barriers, as a means for achieving positive outcomes in education, training, employment and personal well being, and supporting employers to enable this.