People leaving prison struggle to shake off the stigma and access support – but there are places where imaginative training and simple technology have helped.

Jason knew he wouldn’t and shouldn’t get the job. Yet his job centre adviser told him to apply to the pharmaceutical warehouse anyway. The problem? “I’m a convicted drug dealer. They won’t even let me set foot in the place.”

Like many of the former prisoners I’ve met recently through my research for the Centre for Justice Innovation, Jason knows only too well the stigma of having done time. He’s also become aware of the limited advice out there for ex-prisoners wanting to make a fresh start.

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Ex-prisoners we spoke to held out little hope of receiving help from places like Job centre Plus and local authority housing teams. In fact, we heard stories of subtle discrimination from the very public sector bodies which they rely on. As one person told us:

“They don’t have a clue … The moment you come through the door they’ve got a judgment on you.”

Former offenders are being neglected by services that don’t understand their needs and are often labelled as problematic or aggressive.

This matters. People coming out of prison need all the help they can get.

Ministry of Justice research (pdf)  has shown that former prisoners who have a stable home on release are 15% less likely to reoffend.

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Those with a job are 20% less likely to commit another crime. In a climate where homes and jobs are scarce offenders need all the help they can get.

 

 

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