Bishop hails new breakthrough in rehabilitating prisoners
NEW PRISONS should be built to allow prisoners to take part in training and work programmes, the Bishop of Liverpool has said.
Bishop James Jones, who is the bishop for prisons, praised the major impact such schemes could have on inmates.
In a House of Lords debate, he said: “Our old prisons were built on monastic lines with cells modelled on monastic cells so that prisoners would be encouraged to contemplate their crime, and reform.
“While we should never lose sight of that purpose, the architecture of new prisons should reflect the evidence that training and work programmes for prisoners can be transformative in rehabilitating offenders.”
He said in making a BBC Radio Four programme last year called “The Bishop and the Prisoner” he observed closely the Clink and Timpson workshops.
“The Clink is a high-quality, West End-style restaurant created inside a prison, with professional chefs training prisoners to cook and serve paying clients,” he said.
“Two restaurants are already established in our prisons and a further eight are planned. Of the 35 prisoners who have been through the Clink and released, 29 have found jobs and only three have reoffended. Those are remarkable statistics.
“If those statistics are replicated in the planned further eight prisons, the Government must surely take note of the success of this programme. I have not only seen the statistics, I have tasted the food.
“I have also met the prisoners without any staff being present and have seen the impact of this programme on their lives in improving their self-esteem and raising their aspirations.
“The Timpson workshops operate in three prisons at the moment. These prisoners learn to repair shoes and as they learn they are paid for their improving productivity as they gain more competence. The brilliance of these schemes is that when they leave prison, the best get jobs in the Timpson business. In other words, the job in prison is the pathway to employment on the outside.”
He said the “determining factor” in each prison was the “visionary outlook of the governor”.