The Offender Rehabilitation Bill outlined in the Queen’s Speech yesterday, and Chris Grayling’s further announcements today brings some positive news about the extension of probation provision to those offenders serving less than 12 months in prison. Yet at the same time, it raises very real questions and concerns about the rationale behind heavily reducing the role of the Probation Service. By mandating offenders coming out after a short sentence to attend supervision and programmes run by new providers, a whole new breed of enforcers will come into play – the private and voluntary sector.
The ‘probation’ providers who will be delivering community sentences in the new payment by results landscape will not be the Probation Trusts. They will be private sector providers who are likely to have little experience in dealing with the revolving door of prolific lower level offenders whose risk of offending is volatile and unpredictable and whose focus is on profit.
The focus of this Bill is at the wrong end of the sentence for offenders receiving prison sentences of less than 12 months. In most cases, prison is not the most appropriate sentence outcome. In the US even the right wing recognise that prisons don’t work for lower level offenders – they are closing prisons and establishing good quality community solutions.
We continue to campaign for greater recognition of the value of community sentences. Far too many people are being sentenced to prison for short periods (less than 12 months) when a community sentence is proven to be more effective at reducing re-offending, cheaper and more likely to address many of the underlying problems for this group such as mental health and drug and alcohol problems.
There is an opportunity here for increased court engagement – something that wasn’t mentioned in the outline of the Bill. In fact, courts rarely get a mention in these discussions. But their involvement is critical not only for ‘probation’ support post prison, but also in ensuring that the most appropriate sentence is given; whether that is prison or community. Encouraging a problem solving approach within courts has to be the sensible way forward and bring about the cost saving results that are the ultimate goal.
We hope that as the details are added to this Bill, there is serious consideration given to the role of the courts in working constructively with the new ‘probation’ providers, to ensure that the best possible outcome is identified for each individual offender. Perhaps this will finally mean that fewer people are sentenced to futile short term prison sentences that do little to reduce re-offending or the number of victims.
As you will have heard, Make Justice Work will be coming to an end in June following four years of intensive campaigning.
These last four years have been an incredible journey in which we have focussed on demonstrating the futility of short term sentences in reducing re-offending; the effectiveness of robust community sentences as alternatives to custody; what victims really think about community sentences; the need for diverting particular groups such as those with mental health problems, substance misuse problems, and non-violent women offenders, from short term prison sentences; and highlighting the risks that Payment by Results present in undermining community sentences.
In addition to raising awareness around these core issues and the evidence that supports them, we have been interested in understanding the impact that a campaign, such as ours, can have in such a challenging sector. What are the best mechanisms for change? What impact does social media have in spreading the message? How do you get your message heard above the rest? How do you work collaboratively with others in the sector to add weight to the message? What are the best ways to contact policy makers, practitioners, politicians, press, etc.?
To help us understand the impact of our work and the campaign, we have commissioned an independent consultant (Stephen Boyce) to carry out an evaluation. It would be impossible for Stephen to interview all of the people and organisations that we have met along our journey, so we have created a short survey. I hope you will take 10 minutes to complete it and give us your honest opinion (all responses will be anonymous). All responses will inform the final evaluation which will then be published as our final report in June.
What have we done well? What should we have done differently? And possibly, most important of all, what needs further exploration and work?
Make Justice Work (MJW) campaigns for the wider and more effective use of robust and demanding community sentences as an alternative to short term prison sentences (of 12 months or less) for lower level and non-violent offenders.
Continue reading “MJW’s Response to David Cameron’s Speech on Criminal Justice” »
Last week Kent Probation kindly invited Make Justice Work to visit their community project Prospects.
Continue reading “MJW visit Prospects run by Kent Probation” »
Make Justice Work gave a grant to journalist Ian Birrell to travel to the US to investigate the ‘Right on Crime’ movement, which originated in Texas and is now sweeping conservative America.
Hard-line conservatives have declared prison a failure, that costs the earth and has little positive outcomes for lower level repeat offenders.
The article, published on Sunday, revealed that investing in rehabilitation (which costs less than prison), effective sentencing and support for offenders has had a dramatic effect on reoffending rates in Texas.
If you have any questions or comments about the article, please email email@example.com or call 020 3538 8365
Today was the deadline to submit written evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee into women offenders.
Continue reading “Evidence From Make Justice Work To The Justice Select Committee” »
This month saw the anniversary of the riots that started in Tottenham, North London and sprung up through England. This will be one of many pieces of commentary about the riots. Some will predict a repeat of the turmoil, others will claim the preventative impact of high profile initiatives. But, perhaps, the truth is that in the UK we know what can work and how to make it work.
Continue reading “It’s not so complicated – Thomas Lawson Leap Confronting Conflict” »
This morning the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) published the latest statistics on prison population and reported that 77 out of 131 prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded.
Continue reading “MJW responds to PRT’s prison overcrowding statistics” »
Earlier this week the Daily Mail splashed on its front page that around one in four offenders on community sentences were failing to comply with their terms. The Mail also reported that half of these would go on to re-offend during the course of their community sentence.
Continue reading “Response to Daily Mail by Peter Hand Deputy Director of Make Justice Work” »
On 15 November, the first generation of Police and Crime Commissioners will be elected in 41 police force areas across England and Wales. The policy has been controversial, with mixed press coverage and opposition in Parliament from Labour. However, with less than 100 days to go before the elections it is time for those in the criminal justice sector to pause and consider what opportunities this radical change may provide.
Continue reading “Police and Crime Commissioners – an opportunity for positive change by Shane Britton of Revolving Doors” »
This morning we launched Just Results, a report on the government’s plans to apply Payment by Results (PbR) to community sentences. The report was the result of bringing together 30 leading experts to explore in an open-minded and constructive spirit the challenges and opportunities of applying PbR to the delivery of community sentences. The report is underpinned by 9 non-negotiable principles which were identified as being crucial if PbR is to be successful. We very much hope that the report will contribute to the critical wider debate about the complexities and the opportunities which exist when applying PbR to community sentences.
MJW attended the Howard League Community Programmes Awards 2012 at the Kings Fund today. It was fantastic to see so many programmes doing such good work and making a difference. Here are a list of the winners and runners up.
Continue reading “The Howard League: Community Programmes Award 2012” »
Roma Hooper, Director of Make Justice Work said, “MJW broadly supports the principles behind the Swift and Sure Justice White Paper. However our chief concern is that speeding up the Courts service, must not lead to offenders receiving inadequate or inaccurate assessments. Get this wrong and offenders on community sentences will not access the services and support needed, such as drug, alcohol and mental health services, to tackle their criminal behaviour.
Continue reading “Response To The Swift And Sure Justice White Paper” »
“Proposals published by the Government to tackle anti-social behaviour risk adding to the pressures on our already overworked courts system and over-crowded prisons. Unless sufficient commitment is made to ensure that such sanctions are robustly administered and resourced, there is a real danger that people will breach their orders and end up in prison to serve a short custodial sentence resulting in a strong likelihood that they will continue offending.
Continue reading “Government Proposals will add more pressure to over worked prisons and court system” »
Yesterday, Peter, my deputy, and I visited Judge David Fletcher at the North Liverpool Community Court. It was an inspirational visit and a welcome antidote to the Queen’s Speech, where the reform of community sentences is deeply informed by punishment. What we saw yesterday in Liverpool were not sentences being dished out that were soft and as some would see as “being let off” – they were rational, challenging and intelligently focussed on the individual in the dock and the need to not only get them to comply to their order, but reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
The Government’s proposals in ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses‘ contain some good ideas. But Victim Support is very concerned about one key element of these plans.
Continue reading “Take action: don’t let victims suffer twice” »
“Our chair, David Barrie, Javed khan CEO of Victim Support and I met with a Private Secretary to the Prime Minister at no 1o. It was an open and encouraging discussion and enabled us to talk about the joint piece of work which we are undertaking in late June to gauge the views of victims of lower level crime before and after visiting a higher level community sentence. The meeting further confirmed the challenge we have in improving the media, politicians and the public’s understanding of community sentences. They are simply not all community payback!” – Roma Hooper.
Rob Allen works on prison reform in the UK and internationally. From 2005 to 2010 he was director of the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) at King’s College London and is currently at Justice and Prisons. He is also an ambassador for Make Justice Work.
Continue reading “We must invest time, relationships and resources to stop reoffending – by Rob Allen, Ambassador for Make Justice Work” »
When a crime is committed it is deemed to be committed against the state. The victim goes one way, and the perpetrator goes the other way and never the twain shall meet.
Continue reading ““People dancing look ridiculous to those who can’t hear the music” by Bob Turney, Ambassador for Make Justice Work” »
Marina Cantacuzino is founder of the Forgiveness Project a charity exploring forgiveness and restorative justice through real people’s stories. Marina is also an ambassador for Make Justice Work.
Continue reading “Rehabilitation in the community serves the offender – Marina Cantacuzino (Founder of the Forgiveness Project and Ambassador of Make Justice Work)” »
Roger Graef OBE, is CEO of Films of Record, an award winning production company and ambassador of Make Justice Work.
Continue reading “Prison is an expensive way of making people worse – Roger Graef OBE, CEO of Films of Record and ambassador of Make Justice Work” »
Given that the majority of women in prison are serving sentences as a result of non-violent crimes, there is a need to reconsider whether many of them should be separated from their children in the first place (Women should get time out of jail to see their children, Daily Telegraph 14.02.2012). Women are over-represented in the cohort of prisoners serving short prison sentences – at huge expense to the taxpayer. Not only are such sentences ineffective, but they also plunge families into deeper crisis. Tough and effective community sentences, don’t punish innocent children but can ensure mothers address their behaviour and get their lives back on track. Such sentences also come at much less cost to the taxpayer.
Simon is the founder of YO! Brand, including YO!Sushi, YOTEL, YO! Zone, and YO! Foundation, which he set up to support various charitable causes that are important to him. He is also an ambassador of Make Justice Work.
“For those with illiterate and dysfunctional backgrounds turning to crime is a reasonable and logical means to survive. Today we have the means to turn those people’s lives around and it makes simple business sense to do that .
Just 50 years from now our children’s children will look back at the way we imprison without rehabilitation with the same sense of injustice as we now look back at debtors prisons of the 18th century.
In business we know that 95% training , empowering and carrot and 5% punishment and stick brings the best results – it’s time we took that logic and experience to rehabilitation and prison.”
Tony Cann is a trustee of the Ruskin Foundation and an ambassador of Make Justice Work.
Continue reading “We need to move to non custodial sentences with adequate support – Tony Cann ambassador of Make Justice Work” »