Locked Up Potential

23 February 2009

Full Report

Executive Summary

This report highlights the principal crisis in our prisons as being the stubbornly high rate of re-offending.

Approximately three quarters of young prisoner’s under-25 and two thirds of all adult prisoners are reconvicted within two years of their release. This ‘revolving door’ system of justice, which simply sends to prison those who have previously been convicted and will go on to re-offend again, is one that must be addressed both for the rehabilitation of the prisoners in question and for society at large. The report looks at the human elements of the prison system, putting forward the case for easing the overcrowding in prisons, improving mental health care, giving better support to families and involving victims to a greater extent to make offenders aware of the damage committed. The main aims of this report are to reduce re-offending rates and overcrowding, and to improve the safety of ordinary people in their communities.

The major recommendations in the review are: localising the leadership and management of our prison system as well as investing in smaller community prisons; expanding the involvement of trained volunteers to work with (ex-)prisoners on their rehabilitation in the community; reforming drug testing methods to halt the flow of drugs into prisons and radically overhauling drug treatment programmes to focus on abstinence instead of maintenance; expanding prison education, skills training and work to prepare prisoners for employment after release; and strengthening support for those leaving prison by means of mentoring schemes and greater incentives to employ to ex-offenders.