Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Having done so, please go on to remember the impact that combat has had on so many of our troops, including those who have been imprisoned! Remember the Military Covenant? To imprison our veterans surely cannot be right!
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Insider information suggests that the current Prison Service National Offender Management Information System is flawed as not all assessments are including data on veterans on reception into the prison system. This is apparently down to lack of staff and time restraints.
"HM Prison Service is well aware of the high numbers of Veterans in the prison system, but a state of denial is being maintained as there are far reaching issues and ramifications if they lift the lid on this can of worms"!
Although some prisons have instigated veteran support groups, Michael Spur (Head of NOMS) has directed that Veterans will not be given any priority treatment whilst in the prison system. This decision fails to acknowledge the special needs and circumstances of veterans, particularly those suffering with combat related mental trauma and depression, often years after leaving the military. Only those who have personal experience of high intensity combat can understand the damaging impact this can have.
When will the PM and other Ministers recognise the special needs of veterans and the nation's failure to apply the Military Covenant? Having put their lives on the line for their country, veteran offenders and their families deserve better.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Statistics published by the Department for Education in September 2011 show that there are over 65,000 children in care, an increase of 5,000 in the last decade, while the number of adoptions has declined.
The report goes on to describe how children in the care of local authorities are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The proportion of care leavers not in education, employment or training increased to 33 per cent in 2011. Furthermore, looked after children are more likely to suffer emotional or mental health problems, with estimates between 45 to 60 per cent compared to 10 per cent of children on average.
As part of a renewed focus on looked after children, the government is supporting local partnerships to develop a range of intensive cost effective and evidence-based interventions for children in care or custody.
Let us hope that this renewed effort will also see increased support for those children with parents already in the Justice system. By investing in the rehabilitation of parents we will generate savings in the ongoing costs associated with children in care.
Whichever figures are correct, if seen against the more general throughput of offenders into and out of the system over any given year, veterans represent the largest single occupational group within the justice system. When recognising the Military Covenant, where the country has pledged to care and support our veterans and their families, this surely cannot be seen as right or justifiable. Those who defend our country and put their lives on the line, deserve better. Rightly we provide considerable support to those wiith physical injuries, yet those with mental health and other issues receive little help.
The impact that this has on veteran families can be profound, often resulting in family breakdown, increasing social costs and children in care. These children go on to become amongst the most vulnerable groups in society, and are themselves more likely to suffer mental health problems, achieve less academically and be exposed to future criminality and unemployment.
Ken Clarke has called for a 'Re-habilitation Revolution' in the justice system. Veterans must be a priority group.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The Prison Reform Trust has launched this new film explaining why we should reduce the use of prison if we want to reduce re-offending
Monday, November 07, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Having put their lives on the line for their country, they surely deserve better!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Read the report here
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Ken Clarke's article in the Guardian today brings further hope that we are beginning to see the light and recognise the need for change in the way we deal with the majority of offenders. Let us hope his words become reality.
The 2002 Social Exclusion Report, ‘Reducing Re-offending by Ex-prisoners’ provided a comprehensive insight into the causes of crime and how to reduce re-offending. Sadly, little has been done to implement the recommendations that followed that research. Indeed, many people within the CJS have not even read it. Consequently, we are now facing even greater challenges, with the recent riots in our cities and the associated crimes re-emphasising what was previously learned.
The riots have however promoted new energy into the debate and we must be hopeful that something positive will arise. Importantly, it is clear that what we have been doing has not worked and as Rita Mae Brown wrote in her book, ‘Sudden Death’, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. Change is urgently required.
When considering offending behaviour it is essential that we go back to basics and ask the fundamental question – ‘why do people behave as they do’? Whilst the basic answer is relatively simple and well researched, addressing it is a complex issue. Behaviour is a reflection of our individual thoughts and feelings, all of which stem from our personal experiences in life and the environment in which we have grown up.
Changing the thoughts and feelings inevitably leads to a change in behaviour. Yet, for those who offend, rather than attempt to promote change, by default we have tended to re-enforce the existing negative situation – ‘you are a bad person and worthless. You will never achieve anything in life and every time you make a mistake we are going to punish you, exclude you and lock you up’!
I am not suggesting that the consequences of committing crime should not include some form of associated punishment. I am however suggesting that those consequences and punishment need to include new and positive experiences that serve to promote the fundamental change in personal ‘thoughts and feelings’. Without this, the behaviour will remain unchanged. If we reflect upon our personal lives and ask some key questions, we start to recognise what is actually needed –
Where would we be now had we not grown up in a safe and caring environment?
How would we have been had we not been given boundaries and taught standards in behaviour (right and wrong) and social values?
What would have happened to us if our family and others had not been there to support us during our times of need?
Where would we be without the ability to read, write, communicate and manage our personal affairs?
Had we been abused and left to fend for ourselves, how would we be now?
Had we not been given the opportunity to undertake positive and enjoyable experiences, how would we feel now? What would our sense of self-worth be like?
Thoughts / Feelings / Behaviour
Maslow’s hierarchy of basic human needs is an excellent example of how, from the most basic requirements of food, water and shelter, through to what he described as security, a sense of belonging, self-esteem, self-worth and self-actualisation, our personality and needs develop. The majority of offenders have rarely experienced the higher levels of need; they have simply missed out on what most of us take for granted. Consequently, they are unable to relate to them or understand what they mean. As for punishment, most offenders have been punished so much during their lives they simply do not care, and often do not care that they do not care.
Prison, by its very nature and infrastructure is not conducive to delivering the positive changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviour that an offender needs and society demands. Unfortunately, many people see Community sentences as a soft option and, to be fair, some are not as mentally challenging and constructive as they could be; that is not to say they cannot be improved. Importantly, because they are not constrained by the custodial environment, Community sentences can provide numerous opportunities for exposure to new and positive experiences, experiences that many offenders have never been helped to undertake or considered – an appreciation for life outside their immediate environment, success, a sense of self worth, social contribution and personal responsibility, all of which enable an offender to recognise that their life can be very different.
Such provision requires a fundamental change in ethos and approach, including the employment of people with appropriate confidence, leadership, life skills and belief to deliver it. Such people also provide the role modelling so often missing in an offender’s life. Whilst there is clearly a cost in terms of time and money, the outcomes and overall reduction in re-offending can provide a net return that is undoubtedly worth the investment, including the promotion of improved values and standards, increasing inclusion and a reduction in selfishness and fear of crime.
Meaningful Community sentences can be more effective than short-term prison sentences.
Monday, August 22, 2011
This is a well considered piece of research explaining why so many Military Veterans are ending up in the Justice System; it is clearly a complex issue. Critically, having risked their lives for their country, under the Military Covenant they and their families deserve better - an alternative to Custody and Probation that will also reduce the likelihood of future re-offending. Will we take on this responsibility? A new partnership is attempting to do so, but still requires support - http://www.lifechangeuk.com/supporting-the-military-covenant/ can you help?
Thursday, August 11, 2011
If this example of visionary leadership were to be replicated, we could reduce re-offending and the number of long term unemployed.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
More food for thought as we reflect and examine what is happening on our streets and in our communities!
Thursday, August 04, 2011
In a time of enormous financial austerity, this article again reminds us of the financial and human costs of short term prison sentences and the urgent need for change and a move to community based alternatives. Will the Justice Minister be given the support to implement the necessary changes that he once advocated?
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Yet more evidence to show that punishment by itself fails to reduce re-offending. Rather there is a need to invest time and resources into providing offenders with the skills and personal confidence that most of us take for granted, enabling them to change their thoughts, feelings, behaviour and belief in themselves. The process of course requires a fundamental shift in approach and philosophy to the task. Will the Ken Clarke be supported in his efforts to make the changes possible?
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
All you need to know regarding prison numbers and other facts related to prisons in England and Wales.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The 'Veterans Change Partnership' is being developed to offer specialised programmes of rehabilitation, training, support and preventative work for veteran offenders. With each partner providing a blend of specialist knowledge, skills and provision, the programme will enable a reduction in recidivism with access to employment. Considerable work has been undertaken and more information can be seen at http://www.lifechangeuk.com/supporting-the-military-covenant/
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
This news item describes the veteran homeless situation in the USA. Here in the UK we are facing similar shame - 12% of London's homeless are veterans, many are committing crime in order to survive. If we are to reduce the levels of offending and re-offending and look after the families of our veterans, more effort must be made to implement and uphold the values enshrined within the Military Covenant.
Monday, July 11, 2011
This link to a CBS News programme highlights the increasing levels of depression and mental illness amongst US veterans and how one state is helping its homeless veterans to get their lives in order, all of which is serving to reduce re-offending and enable positive personal change.
Here in the UK, it is estimated that 12% of the homeless in London are military veterans. Is our military covenant really making a difference to those veterans who have fallen upon bad times and who face difficulties with depression? How many more of our veterans will we place in prison?
Thursday, June 30, 2011
This link takes you to the Prison Reform Trust Bromley Briefings Prison Fact File. All you need to be up to date with the facts on prisons in England and Wales.
The US State Court system is increasingly recognising the growing number of military veterans who, following combat trauma, are entering the justice system. Aganist this background new proceedures are being introduced to support and divert veteran offenders. Courts are now focussing upon rehabilitating veterans through positive case management instead of jailing them.
Recognising the UK's Military Covenant, I am left wondering how long it will be before similar initiatives are introduced in the UK?
The following report by Rick Rogers - For the North County Times North County Times | Posted: Friday, January 21, 2011 12:00 am outlines the situation in San Diago.
With a stroke of his pen Wednesday, Superior Court presiding Judge Kevin Enright approved what's technically known as the Veterans Treatment Review Calendar, a pilot program born of years of planning and consensus building.
The first cases are set for Feb. 4 in San Diego before Judge Roger W. Krauel, a Vietnam veteran who spent 35 years in uniform. A San Diego judge since 199l, Krauel will spend one day a week concentrating on veterans' cases from across the county.
"It is another positive step to addressing a real problem in our community," Krauel said of the voluntary program that primarily targets Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma or substance abuse issues who run afoul of the law.
"This pilot will help us start sorting out the best ways to serve the public safety while bringing veterans who have offended back into the law-abiding community," said Krauel.
The county and its estimated 235,000 veterans will now join Santa Ana, Tulsa, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and dozens of places nationwide running courts focused on rehabilitating veterans through aggressive case management instead of jailing them.
The largest numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans anywhere in the country live in San Diego County, an estimated 30,000.
In recent years, increasing numbers of them have landed in county jails for what's been described as "impulse crimes" such as drunk driving, spouse and child abuse, barroom brawls and resisting arrest.
So many, in fact, that San Diego County now has upwards of 150 young veterans enmeshed in the criminal justice system and another 400 of all ages either in jail or facing charges.
San Diego attorney Jude Litzenberger has co-chaired the legal task force to establish the veteran diversion program since 2007. She said the calendar is good news for veterans and the public alike.
"Right now, the judges are seeing veterans in a number of San Diego County courtrooms," she said. "This is a good opportunity to consolidate those cases in order to do the kind of monitoring and mentoring that's been shown to both remove veterans from criminality while ensuring a safer community.
"If you send someone to DUI school when they need to go to PTSD counseling, you are doing a disservice to both the veteran and the public."
Litzenberger said the pending veterans treatment program won't be easy, but if successfully completed, it could wipe the slate clean for troubled veterans.
Take driving under the influence of alcohol, for example. Someone arrested on a first-time DUI can expect to pay $2,000 in fines, draw five years of unsupervised probation, attend 32 hours of alcohol education and agree to take a Breathalyzer test at any time.
Someone admitted into Veterans Treatment Review Calendar must comply with all of the above, plus undergo exposure therapy for PTSD, agree to drug and alcohol testing and have regular contact with a probation officer.
Buffalo Judge Robert Russell started the first veterans' court in January 2008. A hybrid of existing specialty courts ---- such as domestic violence court, mental health court and drug court ---- veterans' court has been a striking success.
Of 120 veterans enrolled in Russell's program, 90 percent successfully completed the program ---- and the recidivism rate is zero.
Below are key provisions of the Veterans Treatment Review Calendar:
-- A defendant will be assigned to the VTRC based on the recommendations of the prosecutor and defense lawyer, and supporting information from the probation department and agencies providing assessment and treatment.
-- All of the programs of the San Diego Court are open to defendants who are on active duty, including the VTRC. In certain circumstances, military procedures allow for military sanctions to be imposed in addition to whatever a civilian court does. Where there is military jurisdiction over a crime, it is up to the prosecutor whether a case is also filed in state court.
-- The VTRC will have the power to review cases already adjudicated. To do this, attorneys would make a joint recommendation to the criminal court judge conducting the probation hearing and sentencing of the defendant; or to the judge reviewing, post-sentence, the performance of probation.
Defense attorneys interested in the new program should contact Litzenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put "VTRC Inquiry" in the subject line for a faster response.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Latest news on the criminal justice system, sentencing policy, prisons and life after jail | Society | guardian.co.uk
It is to be hoped that the Government's Revolution in Prison Reform and Sentencing will indeed be delivered.
Monday, June 27, 2011
In this moving You Tube flim, Martin Bell OBE highlights the damaging impact of Combat Related PTSD, including how, for many, it often leads to enprisonment. The human and fincancial costs are disturbing. If we are serious as a nation about supporting the Military Covenant, we must surely take more action to address veteran mental health issues.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
For those leading busy lives, this briefing provides a clear outline of the Government's 'Breaking the Cycle' report and is commended for its succinct and clear presentation.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
This important work by the NHS and partners is clearly to be welcomed. It is to be hoped that similar support will also be offered to those Veterans who, often as a result of mental health issues following combat experience, end up entering the Justice System.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
New three sector consortium to help deliver criminal justice services - Press releases - Media centre - Nacro, the crime reduction charity
At last, the momentum for meaningful cross sector partnerships appears to be growing with an acknowledgement that different organisations can and do bring different skills to help reduce re-offending and that by working together the outcomes can be more effective.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Further evidence that RJ can have a positive impact upon the reduction of re-offending and the type and level of offending.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Western Australia is leading with new interventions to reduce re-offending.
Well done Cheshire Police; more evidence to show that RJ is a powerful and appropriate way of reducing re-offending. Yet, there is still a reluctance by many to engage in the process. Is it that the Justice System and Society are afraid to admit that punitive measures are not effective and that there are better ways? The reality is clear, until we pursue a process that serves to change the thoughts and feelings of offenders, their behaviour will remain unchanged. Punishment re-enforces existing negative thoughts and feelings whilst RJ serves to help promote positive change.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Remembering what our troops and their families endure on our behalf!
Yet many are leaving the military with various levels of Mental Health problems, only to experience family breakup, homelessness, alcohol and drug issues and ending up in prison or on probation. These were once proud men, willing to give their lives for their country; is this how we are to repay them?
To reduce re-offending by military veterans, they deserve a purpose designed programme of support and rehabilitation. We rightly deliver such programmes for those with physical injuries, now we must deliver for those with mental injuries and loss.
The Veterans Change Partnership is aiming to provide such support. More information can be seen at - http://www.lifechangeuk.com/supporting-the-military-covenant/
If you also support this view, please tell others.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Re-offending rates have remained the same for years, costing the tax payer billions of pounds every year. If an offender's thoughts and feelings remain unchanged, so will his or her behaviour. It is the same for us all. To achieve change we need an environment that helps to promote it; a Prison regime is simply not conducive.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
This article provides examples of how combat has impacted upon US troops and their families. Sadly, many UK troops face similar issues, all of which can be devastating, often leading to increasing mental health problems, family breakdown, homelessness, alcohol misuse and crime. Under the Military Covenant they deserve support as they try to overcome their various personal challenges.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Rehabilitating Veteran offenders can provide them with the opportunities to use their skills in the private sector; surely better than keeping them in prison.
Take a look at - http://www.lifechangeuk.com/supporting-the-military-covenant/ and support the cause.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Yet more evidence showing that mental health issues with Veterans are rising!
The Deputy Prime Minister acknowledges that the Government has been slow to recognise the urgent needs of Veterans with mental health issues. Will the Government now also acknowledge that many such Veterans end up sleeping rough, using alcohol and drugs to shut out their reality and become involved in crime, only to be sent to prison? As with those suffering physical injuries, these individuals desperately need help and support with rehabilitation, not a criminal record and personal failure. The Veterans Change Partnership is ready to provide.
The Resolution blog makes some important observations regarding alcohol abuse and the mental health of our Veterans. Many of these veterans end up sleeping rough and or entering the Justice System. Following the statement by the PM regarding the Military Covenant and our duty of care to service personnel and their families, all should be taken very seriously.
The need for alternative rehabilitation provision and support is growing. Many voluntary sector providers stand ready to provide, but need the funding to do so. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are rightly being directed at those suffering physical injury. Similar sums now need to be provided for those suffering mental trauma and distress. Without such support, the future cost to the country in terms of Justice (Prison and Probation), Health, DWP and Social Services (familiy support) will be considerably greater.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Hopefully staff will be appropriately trained to work effectively with prisoners - building positive relationships, trust, respect and rapport, all of which are essential to ensuring motivation and enthusiasm for change.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Increasing the use of Community sentences for those offenders who are not assessed as dangerous is gaining support. It is to be hoped that others will also realise the benefits.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Will the Covenant help those veterans who have suffered mental trauma and family breakdown, leading to alcohol abuse and crime? Veterans and their families who have served their country and ended up on the wrong side of the law deserve help and support to return to full productive lives.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Although the film features US soldiers and Marines, many UK veterans have endured similar experiences and deserve our respect and support. Is it any wonder that so many are loosing their way in life and becoming involved in crime.
Your Veterans Need Your Support!
Up to 12 % of the homeless on our streets are thought to be military veterans. Many go on to become involved in crime and enter the Justice System. Having put their lives on the line for our country, this cannot be right. What happened to the Military Covenant?
Monday, May 02, 2011
Read his inspiring story and find out how you can back campaign for military covenant| News Of The World
The values associated with the military covenant must surely also be applied to those suffering mental illness and becoming caught up in the justice system. Those veterans who offend deserve better than simply using prison.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Once again, major Charitable Trusts set a standard for partnership work to help reduce re-offending rates.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Reducing Re-offending by Military Veteran Offenders - Recognising and Addressing their Special Needs
It is not possible to enter into a complete account of the days presentations and discussions. Suffice to say, it was a packed event with considerable support from the majority of delegates for the introduction of alternative and specialist provision for veteran offenders.
Regrettably, whilst apparently recognising the enormous sacrifice that many veterans and their families have paid and are paying in support of their country, NOMS made it clear that they do not support the proposal for any form of special provision for this group of offenders. Rather, NOMS policy is for veteran offenders to simply have access to the same services as those of other offenders.
Most delegates felt that this policy not only went against the spirit of the Military Covenant, it also ignored the unique impact that military life and intensive periods of conflict has on the minds of military personnel and their families. It is particularly regrettable that the policy has been made by those who have not had to endure such hardships and emotional extremes. We can only hope that Ministers with direct responsibilities for our military personnel will reflect upon the policy and direct that it be reviewed and changed as a matter of urgency.
Resolution are providing effective therapy for UK military veterans suffering with mental illness, including combat related PTSD. The approach looks at addressing the problems before veterans end up entering the justice system. Equally, they support many who do become involved in crime, helping to ensure they do not re-offend. More investment in this type of provision would save more lives and millions of pounds.