Pri­son is to try dif­fer­ent ap­proach

Macclesfield Express - - BARLOW’S BRIEF -

HMP Styal has be­come the first pri­son to of­fer open ac­com­mo­da­tion to low-risk of­fend­ers in a house just be­yond the pri­son gates.

The home will pro­vide a step­ping-stone for fe­male pris­on­ers near­ing re­lease help­ing to re-es­tab­lish them in the com­mu­nity.

Prior to this th­ese of­fend­ers were sent to open prisons in Kent and York­shire far away from fam­ily and friends.

Will the new sys­tem work? Frankly I don’t know but given the mis­er­able track record of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion some­thing has to be done.

It makes no sense at all to persist with cur­rent pri­son regimes, which cre­ate ma­jor crim­i­nals from mi­nor of­fend­ers.

We des­per­ately need to test new ini­tia­tives if we are to re­duce re­of­fend­ing. Im­prov­ing men­tal health fa­cil­i­ties in­stead of dump­ing suf­fer­ers in pri­son would help con­sid­er­ably.

It’s truly Dick­en­sian to use prisons to house the men­tally ill and cam­paign­ers should be mak­ing their voice heard with a lot more ve­he­mence.

If mov­ing low-risk of­fend­ers out of closed prisons into some­thing re­sem­bling nor­mal­ity helps rein­te­grate them into the com­mu­nity it’s worth a try.

As for in­car­cer­at­ing those with psy­chi­atric prob­lems: we should hang our heads in shame.

Can you imag­ine the same treat­ment for suf­fer­ers of any other ma­jor ill­ness? Nei­ther can I. If the gover­nor of HMP Styal would like to in­vite me round I’d be happy to ac­cept.

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