- Available in: Print and PDF
- Published: March 1, 2008
Edited by Rob Allen.
Published 2008 (ISBN 1 905370 39 3) Price £9.95
Numbers in prison in England and Wales grew from 40,000 to 64,600 in the 20 years to 2000, and are projected to reach perhaps 93,000 by 2010. Figures from 2005 showed that 91% of youngsters who have been through community punishment programmes reoffend. The collateral damage of imprisonment is considerable – a third of prisoners lose their home while in prison, two-thirds lose their job, over a fifth face increased financial problems and more than two-fifths lose contact with their family. This is damaging not only to individual offenders but also to society as whole, which pays the price – in a variety of ways – for not reducing reoffending. If we are serious about reintegrating people into our communities and enabling them to become productive and participative citizens, we have to find more effective ways of rehabilitating offenders. Responding to these problems is not solely or even mainly a matter for the police or the criminal justice system. The impact of home and school environments is key to understanding criminal behaviour among children and young people – as too is the quality of housing and of community and youth services provision. Most offenders have experienced a lifetime of social problems: prisoners are 13 times as likely to have been in care as a child, compared with the general population, and 13 times as likely to be unemployed; and more than 70% of prisoners suffer from at least two mental disorders. An effective approach to criminal justice must also deal with the growing correlation between drugs and crime in the UK. Problem drug users are responsible for around 60% of all crime, 80% of domestic burglaries and 54% of robberies. The essays in this volume look at different examples of interventions that have sought to reduce reoffending and to increase the rehabilitation of offenders. They start from the premise that we cannot expect to develop appropriate interventions to support people in exiting the criminal justice system unless we have a better understanding of the “journey” that has taken them into it, and of the interactions and (lack of) support they have experienced from a range of public services. We need to understand what is influencing people’s behaviour patterns and use that learning to develop proactive solutions to help bring them out of the criminal justice system. These essays examine the factors influencing offending, and offer up alternatives – sometimes radical and innovative alternatives – to reduce the chances of reoffending.