Short-term prisoners have exceptionally high reconviction rates, fuelled by major social problems. Growing recognition of this, and of deficiencies in prison-probation coordination, has accelerated 'resettlement' of ex-prisoners up the penal agenda.
The 'Resettlement Pathfinders' tested several new partnership-based approaches. This report evaluates three probation-led projects which combined practical assistance with interventions to improve motivation and capacity to change. Their key feature was the delivery of a cognitive-motivational programme ('FOR - A Change') specially designed for short-termers.
The study found this produced significant changes in attitude, as well as greater 'continuity' (voluntary post-release contact between offenders and project staff) than previous approaches. It also found evidence of association between continuity and reduced reconviction. Overall, the findings support resettlement strategies based on fostering and nurturing offenders' motivation to change, facilitating access to services, and 'through the gate' contact with staff or volunteers with whom a relationship has already been built.
The research offers findings and insights of practical value to probation and prison officers, as well as staff of other agencies that work with prisoners and ex-prisoners. The report should also be read by penal policy-makers, criminology/criminal justice academics and students, and those engaged in staff training.
"There is much to learn from this detailed but readable research study about what works with short-term prisoners." Involve
Anna Clancy is Senior Research Officer in the Community Safety Unit in the National Assembly for Wales.
Kirsty Hudson is a lecturer in criminology at Cardiff University, UK.
Mike Maguire is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Cardiff University, UK.
Richard Peake is engaged in research at University of Hull,UK.
Peter Raynor is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at University of Wales Swansea.
Maurice Vanstone is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice at University of Wales Swansea.
Jocelyn Kynch was until recently a lecturer in research methods at University of Wales Swansea.
Introduction: prisoner resettlement and the Pathfinders; The 'FOR - A Change' programme and its delivery; Pre-release interventions: staff and offender perspectives; Post-release contact and services; Impact and outcome measures; Organisational and implementation issues; Conclusions.