Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Time of Change in Reducing Re-offfending

Over the last two weeks it has been particularly encouraging to note the increasing recognition regarding the need to focus more funding towards community based re-habilitation and restorative justice programmes, rather than prison. The evidence gathered and the proposals made by the UK Parliament Justice Committee for increasing community based rehabilitation programmes can only be seen a water-shed in cross-party policy thinking. All we have to do now is implement it!!

In times of increasing budget pressures, the positive outcomes and subsequent cost savings will more than justify the provision and shift in emphasis. Whilst not suggesting that the public should not be protected from dangerous offenders, the majority of offenders will benefit far more from constructive programmes that help to promote positive personal change.

The Justice Committee has further suggested that new prisons are a "costly mistake" and funds would be better allocated to local public services outside of the prisons. They went so far as to suggest that the prison population in England and Wales should be reduced by a third and that prison is a relatively ineffective way of reducing crime except for serious offenders, and the amount of repeat offenders could be more efficiently reduced through rehabilitation programs such as housing, employment, education, and drug and alcohol services.

Importantly, any programme of rehabilitation must focus upon changing the thinking and feelings of offenders. Only then will society see a meaningful change in behaviour and a reduction in re-offending. All are intrinsically linked; by changing the thinking and the feelings, we automatically see a change in behaviour.

As it stands however, the Probation Service is likely to be overwhelmed by the demand for resettlement support to those leaving prison, let alone effectively running re-habilitation programmes in the community. A further shift and investment in partnership work with private and voluntary and community organisations will be essential.

No comments: