Bishop hails new break­through in re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing pris­on­ers

The Church of England - - NEWS -

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”.

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