Shameful! Half of prisoners are abandoned on release

Recent reports based on the Freedom of Information request made by Liberal Democrats highlight the shocking abandonment of prisoners upon release. This is when they are most vulnerable and in need of help to transition into a settled place in society.

Lib Dem Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP revealed that more than 100,000 prisoners across England and Wales left prison for “unsettled” or “unknown” accommodation in the last three years, almost half of the 220,411 prisoners released in that period. A full table of figures for individual prisons can be found here.

Ed Davey said the new figures proved “the criminal justice system is fundamentally failing when people are reoffending just to get a meal or a place to sleep.”

The Ministry of Justice figures show that 36,945 people (16.8%) were released to “unsettled accommodation” – mostly rough sleeping and other forms of homelessness – between April 2015 and March 2018. This group is much more likely to reoffend than those who have stable housing upon release.

A further 67,577 (30.7%) were released to unknown accommodation, making it much harder for them to continue to receive services to support rehabilitation.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:

To prevent reoffending, prisons should be places of rehabilitation and recovery, and that work must continue when offenders leave the prison gates.

The thousands of people who have nowhere to go upon release are less likely to be able to get a job or have access to education or healthcare. It’s hardly surprising that some turn to stealing or even choose to go back to prison for the sake of a warm, dry bed.

The criminal justice system is fundamentally failing when people are reoffending just to get a meal or a place to sleep.

The Liberal Democrats have consistently argued that the Government must ensure arrangements are in place for housing, healthcare and benefits when people leave prison.

This is an issue to campaign on up and down the country – we have a good policy on homelessness, and part of that strategy needs to be in supporting prisoners on release. As Ed emphasises, rehabilitation, training and support is what needs to be provided, getting people back into jobs and daily routines.

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7 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Aug '18 - 3:45pm

    The comments by Ed are correct , the lack of joining up on every issue in government is ludicrous.

    He and this party in the media and morally, though, would have more weight and authority if they promoted the idea that prison should be for far fewer and should be about punishment, rigorous, for wretched crimes.

    The rehabilitation would thus be to instil a sense of remorse and understanding in the offender.

    Prison should be for the violent and often morally bankrupt perpetrators of said violence, especially against the vulnerable.

    It should not be social work, it is because we imprison so many who we shouldn’t.

    How can we promote a private members bill from a Liberal Democrat mp for upskirting that had a sentence of up to two years and be considered credible on not wanting automatic sentences of prison for knife crime.

    Holistic is what we should be as a society , party, country, polity.

  • If you increase the number of prisoners and reduce the resources in prison and available on release what can we expect. The Coalition aggravated that situation.
    Best solution is to dramatically reduce the prison population be legalising as many drugs as possible, thereby reducing, robberies, thefts, gang warfare, dealing, possessioln etc etc.
    Anecdotally, I recall one survey at a large local prison identified 70% of receptions being sentenced for offences of one sort or another that involved drugs.

  • David Evershed 16th Aug '18 - 6:10pm

    The responsibility for prisoners being re-settled must fall primarily on the prisoners themselves.

    Lib Dems should surely encourage self help rather than dependence.

    Outside intervention is less effective than self help.

  • The whole culture of the prison infrastructure needs to be aligned to helping the prisoner formulate a life outside that is free of crime. Until that changes, it will be an uphill struggle to achieve lasting reform. It is a time for reflection and a fresh start in life.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Aug '18 - 12:13pm

    @ David Evershed,

    Having the power to help oneself makes one feel good about oneself. However, one has to help individuals on the path to independence. The sad fact is that many of these individuals were abandoned before they entered the criminal justice system.

    For example, although most young people in care never rub up agains the criminal justice system, there is an over-representation of care leavers within the system. They have been let down from the time they leave care, and the idea that they have been prepared for independent living would seem to confirm a belief held by some, that they are too worthless to care about and help towards the self-reliance you, and I, put such store by.

    As far as I am concerned, prison is a time when one can help individuals to grow and develop, an opportunity to gain self esteem through the development of new skills that enable them, with continued help, to take their place as functioning, mainstream members of society.

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