Study Aims• Examine the strategic position of the sector in the criminal justice system• Explore the role of TSOs in the resettlement of offenders• Critically evaluate the ‘added value’ of third sector work with (ex)offenders• Examine the impact of volunteering on empowering offenders and ex-offenders to desist from crime
Phases of the Study1. Interviews with key national stakeholders (n=12)2. Qualitative semi-structured interviews (n=292)3. Short survey of offenders distributed at each research site (n=680) to examine offender awareness of - and engagement with - TSOs
– The research aimed to explore offender, prison staff and TSO staff perceptions of the role of TS in resettlement, its value and impact– Interviews with resettlement/offender management and associated staff in prisons and probation (n=80), third sector agency representatives (n=92) and offenders in contact with third sector organisations (n=120)– Key themes emerged in relation to…
Support from Custody to Community• “The prison officers are only limited to within the prison, whereas with a mentor they can help you in here until upon your release and thereafter”• “A lot of offenders get released and they forget they’re still serving a sentence, because when you’re released you’re on licence. The most important thing is having people to help you while you’re outside, not just in prison”• “Unless we have somewhere to go on release and someone to refer to when out, then everything you teach in prison is a waste of time… Prisons need to understand that and allow outside organisations to actually run the resettlement cos to be fair the prison’s shit at that”
The value of Community Links• “That’s the most important thing to do, have people come from outside and help the people that’s in here. They know a lot more than what we can find out in here”• “The more people who can come in and actually see what the prison is like inside, helps to break down all the myths and all the rest of it, and they fact we’re human beings like everybody else”• “We have a good relationship and I’ll find a group nearer to home and attend when I get out”
Perceived Value of TS Staff• “Plenty of times I’ve gone and sat with probation and tried telling them my problems and I’m not coping right and it’s just ‘Oh we’ll see how you’re doing next week. Take care’”• “You can’t get no help from prison… always a dead end, or they have a six month waiting list or paper trail that never ends… At least with (name)… they deal with it straight… You can rely on them”• “Officers are restricted… they can’t go out of their guidelines to try and help you, even if they wanted to”• “The prison guards look at it as though when we’re in prison we’re there for them, and when we leave prison we’re not… Whereas (TSOs) problem is more keeping us out of jail than putting us in it”
Valuing Independence / Expertise• “They come from outside and they know more about what they are talking about. I feel reassured”• “They specialise in it, understand it, the confidentiality is guaranteed”• “It’s good cos they are external they don’t have to get caught up with all the bureaucracy stuff”• “They are not in the system, they are less biased, whereas prison staff are first and foremost loyal to the system”
Advocacy• “(Name) sorts out your stuff with POs who would otherwise ignore you. They are brilliant”• “They got me lined up with a college course that I want to do. She even tried contacting my probation because I was worrying about my dates… they are a great help… while you’re stuck in here they try and do things out there and get it all lined up for you”• “They’ve got links with all kinds of other different organisations and agencies”• “They help you try and find out links to other organisations for when you are getting released. They basically monitor you and make sure that all your needs are met”• “We feel more listened to. POs are great for little things but they wont speak for you”
The Added Value of Volunteers• “They don’t get paid for that so they do it from the heart so I can rely on them”• “If a member of staff wanted to talk to me I would feel like I’ve been forced on, with volunteers you don’t have that feeling”• “They come in from the outside… they don’t judge you, just the same as you don’t judge them”• “I feel more listened to and it all feels more personal”
Lacking Professional Insight• “Sometimes, if you do want to know anything, if you really want to know any information you have to speak to someone who’s actually in the system”• “They don’t know prison policies”• “Some people are really great, like housing organisations, community placements and stuff. But there’s others… give me someone who can help me out for God’s sake”
Perceived ChallengesToo stretched / busy• “They’re dealing with too many people. There’s not enough of them compared to us”Harder to access / find out about• “You can’t see them when you want to”• “I think it took me about six months before I actually found out about them”
Inconsistencies• “They come in one week and then not back for a month. Some people don’t come back at all so it feels like you are starting again every time you meet up with a worker”• “Not turning up. We have an idea that these organisations can help us out but then you realise that they really can’t”• “We only see (name) once a fortnight”• “I had a problem and I let them know and they never turned up”
Opportunities and ChallengesSession discussants:• Lesley Frazer, Clinks• George Barrow, Ministry of Justice• Jan Knake, HMP & YOI Portland• Questions and comments
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