Government's rehabilitation focus welcomed by Recycling Lives

Recycling Lives has welcomed bold plans to reform the prison system.

The Government has unveiled a new Prisons and Courts Bill which, it says, will be the biggest overhaul of prisons in a generation.

Central to its focus is setting in law that a key purpose of prisons is to reform and rehabilitate offenders, as well as punish them for crimes committed – this comes as the country’s bill for reoffending rates pushes £15bn annually.

Recycling Lives, which supports offender rehabilitation via its charitable and commercial activities, has welcomed the changes, having worked with and in prisons for two decades,

Recycling Lives offers work placements to individuals on day-release, and manages specialist workshops in prisons, where offenders work on recycling processes while undertaking training and developing skills ahead of release.

This work boasts an impressive 94% success rate for offenders – where the national average reoffending rate stands at around 60%, Recycling Lives’ is just 6%. And those individuals working on day-release with Recycling Lives, paid more than £33,000 of their wages towards victim’s charities in 2016 alone.

Alasdair Jackson, Operations, Sustainability & CSR Director for Recycling Lives, said: “We welcome the rehabilitation objective which is now enshrined into law for prisons.
“Recycling Lives already works in seven prisons, enjoying real success. Our recidivism rate stands at just 1 in 20, compared to the national reoffending rate of around 60%, which shows how our programmes of employment improve people’s life chances upon release, in terms of employment and making a positive contribution to society.

“We look forward to working with prison governors as they respond to opportunities presented in this Bill.”

The Bill hands powers back to prison governors, who will take control of budgets for education, employment and health and will be accountable for numbers of individuals moving into work on release.

Meaningful employment is one of the biggest indicators of desistance from offending, studies have shown.

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Prison is about punishing people who have committed crimes, but it should be a place where offenders are given the opportunity to turn their lives around.”