A group of prison-based charities has welcomed the findings in a new joint report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, and Ofsted, that far too little attention is being paid to the role of families in the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners. To quote directly from the report: ‘this inspection confirmed our view that an offender’s family are the most effective resettlement agency.
The report can be found here:
In particular, the charities welcomed the findings that:
‘Helping offenders maintain or restore relationships with their family and friends, where this is appropriate, should be central to the resettlement effort.’
The Prison Family Support Alliance (PFSA) is a partnership of front line service delivery charities working inside prisons, in courts, and in the community, to support prisoners, and their children and families, to maintain and strengthen their relationships, and to cope with the often devastating impact of a prison sentence on a family.
The charities also warmly welcome the statement in response to the report by the new Prisons Minister, the Rt Hon Andrew Selous, recognising the importance of families in resettlement and rehabilitation.
However, the Prison Family Support Alliance expresses concern that once again, the Government may be being over-dependent on its ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ privatisation reforms as providing an easy answer to a set of complex issues.
A spokesperson for the charities, said:
“If we are to truly transform rehabilitation, reduce re-offending by ex-prisoners, and thereby reduce crime, we need a more joined up strategy focused on supporting offenders’ families, on strengthening families, positive parenting and healthy adult relationships. This is also crucial in the longer term to reduce the number of children of prisoners who may be at risk of going on to offend in later life.
“The charities have also welcomed the extension of the Troubled Families programme to include offenders’ families, but are calling for more support inside prisons, and more targeted support for families of offenders, as one of the strategies to tackle the re-offending rate, and the alarming increase in prisoner suicides, particularly among young offenders and the men in prison.
“Prisoners are often at the highest level of risk in the early days of custody, when separated from their families, and in some of the cases of prison suicides we have seen that the trigger has been related directly to family issues. Investing in family support work in prisons, and with offenders’ families in the community, can help to reduce suicide and self harm in prisons and improve long term rehabilitation outcomes.”
The charities cite many years of front line experience working in partnership with prison governors, and independent evaluations of prison-based services such as the First Night in Custody services that used to be run in several prisons:
200,000 children a year experience the imprisonment of a parent
There has been a reported 64% increase in prisoner suicides
Prisoners who maintain regular contact throughout a prison sentence are 39% less likely to re-offend on release from prison.
Here are links to the websites of charities in the Prison Family Support Alliance.
Pact (Prison Advice & Care Trust)
Pact is a national charity which aims to offer ‘a fresh start for people affected by imprisonment.’
NEPACS and its forerunners have been working in the north east of England to ‘Build bridges for prisoners, families and the community’ for 130 years, having been founded in 1882.
Partners of Prisoners (POPS)
POPS was established in 1988 by family members experiencing the stigma and distress of supporting a relative through a custodial sentence.
The Jigsaw Visitors Centre was formed in 1993 it is based at HMP Leeds and is an innovative prison Visitors’ Centre which aims amongst other things, to improve family health and well-being for prisoners and their families/visitors.