27 April 2006

Do "Offending Behaviour Courses" work?

Dr. Andrew Green sent me the following information relating to my comments on the failings within the prison service. I have grave doubts that the 'Offending Behaviour Courses' which are used extensively in all jails actually work? I had posed the question with Andrew that it would be interesting to find statistics on how many repeat offenders had gone through these courses - how many times they had repeated them and therefore exactly how useful these courses are! Here is the article Andrew forwarded to me:

Dear Sue,

I too thought it was a productive meeting yesterday, and I will contact Allan Bayle and Des Thomas in the near future, and let you know what their responses are. Thanks for the meal and the good conversation. Please give my best wishes to Adam and Louise.

I thought you might be interested in the following piece of Home Office research, confirming what you were saying yesterday.

Best wishes,

Findings 276 Cognitive skills programmes: impact on reducing reconviction among a sample of female prisoners

This report outlines the findings of research assessing the effectiveness of accredited and pre-accredited prison-based cognitive skills programmes – Enhanced Thinking Skills and Reasoning and Rehabilitation – on reducing reconviction for a sample of female offenders. These programmes were introduced in HM Prison Service (HMPS, England and Wales) in the early 1990's as part of the 'What Works' ethos towards offender treatment and rehabilitation. They were developed around the assumption that offenders lack appropriate cognitive skills to achieve their goals in a pro-social way and seek to address these deficits by improving skills such as communication, perspective taking and problem-solving to help enable offenders to desist from future offending.

The research found no statistically significant differences in one- and two-year reconviction rates between female offenders who participated in prison-based cognitive skills programme delivered between 1996 and 2000 and a matched comparison group. These results are similar to recent evaluations of the same programmes delivered to male adults and young offenders (Cann et al., 2003; Falshaw et al., 2003a) and are considered in the contexts of potential limitations in the theory as applied to female offenders, programme implementation and evaluation methodology.

21 April 2006

Government Proposals to curb Compensation payments to Miscarraiges of Justice!

I want to thank those who respond to my blog. We have some very interesting comments and debates.

I am appalled at the latest proposals by the Government to curb compensation payments to proven Miscarriages of Justice. In truth no amount of compensation can make the wrong done right, but by no means should that responsibility of the terrible damage done to any one wrongfully convicted be trivialised. It is impossible to describe what it feels like. Impossible to relate how it damages both the person wrongly convicted, but also their families and close friends. To compare this with the also terrible consequences of what families of victims of crime suffer is unacceptable. The two are different issues and should be recognised as such.

The rhetoric used by the Government claiming a 'not proven' vedict would be safer and prevent lawyers earning too much money from cases, is aimed at public opinion once again. It is only when you have been affected by the nightmare of being wrongly convicted and therefore touched by what can happen in this system that you fully realise how flawed the system is and the suggested cost cutting by Charles Clarke is not the answer. If he wishes to save money then prosecute those police officers who have been found to be corrupt, yet manage to find an 'escape route' by taking long term sick leave or early retirement on full pay and pension!

I would never wish what I went through on anyone, but I would like to bet that, God forbid, if ever put in that position even for one month, Tony Blair or Charles Clarke would have very different views on how the Innocent should be regarded.

14 April 2006

Protest at Styal Prison

I recently met with others outside Styal prison to stage a protest in order to highlight the serious problem of deaths in custody. It was a wet and very cold day but the determination of those gathered was uplifting. Some very sad stories of Mothers and Fathers who have lost loved ones through suicide whilst in jail.

Many also felt strongly about proposals to expand Styal and of course I support their
concerns. The answer does not lie in even larger prisons, but in how prisons are managed now and the way forward is to reduce the numbers of people sent to jail therefore allowing better management and obsevation of those who struggle with prison and feel vulnerable. Pauline Campbell works hard to bring about changes, she lost her
daughter in Styal.

As many know the whole system needs reforming, vulnerable, mentally ill prisoners and those addicted to drugs need far more than what is given as prison stands today.