Nacro is spearheading a new campaign to overcome the practical barriers to effective resettlement for prison leavers.
While the government continues to consult on large scale reforms to probation services, as well as deal with the chronic violence and drugs problems in prisons, Nacro has looked at how practical solutions can be taken forward immediately to improve resettlement and reduce reoffending.
National data from the Ministry of Justice shows that over a third of all prison releases happen on a Friday. The first day of release is often a race against the clock to present to services before the weekend and, coupled with the pressure of these peaks of releases on a Friday, this can result in people not being able to get vital medication, having to sleep rough and survive on a £46 discharge grant until services reopen on Mondays.
This first policy briefing calls for an end to Friday releases. In Nacro’s experience, being released on a Friday can make an already difficult day almost impossible and increase the possibility of people reoffending.
Nacro Chief Executive Jacob Tas, said: “Ending Friday releases would go a long way towards helping people leave prison with the time to access the services they need. We believe there are immediate simple and cost-effective steps that can be taken by the government and prison governors to ensure Friday releases are avoided.”
Speaking about how Friday releases can significantly impact upon its ability to deliver critical services a Criminal Justice Substance Misuse Practitioner said: “The worst thing about Fridays is trying to get prescriptions organised in time to ensure that person is not without essential medication over the weekend. Released prisoners will seldom report to the service on release as they have a number of appointments to attend. This is even more challenging if they have been released from further away.
“Releasing people on a Friday without prescriptions can mean a weekend without medication, putting themselves and others in danger and significantly impacting upon their chances of effective resettlement. Releasing people earlier in the week would ensure scripts can be organised in time and that they would get the medication they need immediately on release.”
Around a third of people also leave custody without housing, and yet safe and stable accommodation is a critical foundation to resettlement. For those trying to access local housing authorities or other housing services, being released on a Friday can mean homelessness for the first few days of release, due to offices and charities not having enough time before they close for the weekend.
One Housing Options Officer added: “More often than not, people released on a Friday attend our housing office either very late in the day or on occasions when offices are closed, especially if some need to attend probation first, and if services are not within easy reach of each other.”
Nacro is calling for others to send them their further examples of the impact of Friday releases to help build the case and influence the Government. These can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, see our campaign End Friday Releases.