Rising Numbers of Reoffenders Linked to ‘Loosening’ Family Contact, According to Experts
According to statistics released from the Ministry of Justice in 2011, around 90% of offenders sentenced in both England and Wales had committed offences in the past; and significant numbers of inmates were linked to 15 crimes or more.
More alarmingly, further studies show that these figures are on the rise. In 2001, 29% of all offenders had 15 or more convictions. Ten years later, this number had grown to 44%.
Is Overcrowding to Blame in UK Prisons?
Escalating numbers of reoffenders in UK prisons have caused significant debate in terms of identifying the root of the problem. The big question, of course, is why. Why are these individuals going on to commit further crimes after their initial release from prison?
Nacro, a charity that focuses on crime reduction, suggests that the problem lies with prison overcrowding. New research, taken from Ministry of Justice data, indicates that three quarters of the prisons in the UK are accommodating more inmates than they were built to hold. In fact, in the case of Wandsworth Prison, ‘doubling-up’ is common; and many inmates are required to share cells measuring only 6ft by 10ft, originally designed for just the one man.
Paul Cavadino, Chief Exec for Nacro, comments: ‘The more jails are overstretched, the more prisoners have to spend time languishing in their cells rather than in education and rehabilitation programmes which could reduce reoffending.’
Isolation and Loneliness: A Factor?
In addition to overcrowded conditions and overstretched prison staff; isolation is also likely to be a contributing factor. Rob Allen, the director for the International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College, London, claims that removal from the family support network is a large part of the problem.
Allen highlights how in recent years, prisoners are ‘more likely to be moved further from home or moved between prisons, loosening contacts with family and community.’ He goes on to emphasise the importance of ‘support from family and friends’ in terms of helping ex-prisoners to rehabilitate successfully and avoid the risks of reoffending.
The Value of Communication
Communication and support from loved ones is vital, both in terms of rehabilitation, and in ‘going straight’ after prison. However, staying in touch with family and friends whilst incarcerated is challenging for most inmates.
Inmates only have limited funds when in prison, and as a result, struggle to afford calls to mobile phones; especially when they are faced with high charges of up to 40 pence a minute. Even just one 10 minute phone call to a loved one can end up costing nearly a third of their total weekly allowance.
Some prisoners choose to use illegal mobile phones in a bid to reduce costs; however, being found with an illegal mobile device can result in extra years being added to their sentence.
With these facts in mind, it’s easy to see how the current system is preventing inmates from having access to the family support that they need, in order to improve their chances of rehabilitating successfully.
Addressing the Problem
We’re currently working hard to address this problem, and provide the friends and family members of UK inmates a way to help reduce the cost the prisoner pays for a call to them. Offering prisoner’s a cheaper, more effective way of staying in contact with their loved ones. To find out more about PrisonPhone, and our innovative approach to cutting the cost of inmate phone calls, simply visit our site.