In 2013, I took part in the Centre for Social Justice’s Inner City Challenge, spending three days in drug and alcohol rehabilitation with ex-offenders at Acorn Treatment in Manchester. I blogged about the experience here.
The experience was emotionally exhausting but critically important to my understanding of the rehabilitation of offenders. As I explained at the time,
There must be justice but after that, mercy, forgiveness and transformation. That is what Acorn Treatment and Housing delivers: a full package to remake lives, offered with the humility and authority of recovering addicts.
Issues associated with the effectiveness of prisons, and rehabilitation programmes for ex offenders remain an issue of concern to me, so I raised these important matters during questions to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice on 7th March:
Steve Baker (Wycombe) Conservative: What recent assessment she has made of the potential (a) financial and (b) social benefits of reducing reoffending rates?
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Elizabeth Truss): Almost half the people leaving our prisons will reoffend within a year, with a cost to the economy of £15 billion, and countless costs to victims and society. We are giving prison governors the power to be able to turn people’s lives around in order to reduce that level of reoffending
Steve Baker: Prisons should be a place of transformation and renewed hope. What steps has the Secretary of State taken to ensure that prisons are places of reform and rehabilitation?
Elizabeth Truss: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We need to ensure that prison governors have all the tools at their disposal to get people the education they may not have had- almost half of prisoners do not have basic English and maths- to get them into jobs and training so that they can go into work and lead a lawful life when they leave prison.
This was an encouraging answer from the Secretary of State. I am confident those working in the relevant agencies will want to make rehabilitation a reality through support into employment and training opportunities.