WRIGHT JEREMYJeremy Wright is Member of Parliament for Kenilworth and Southam.

If you are
a victim of crime, the chances are the person responsible has offended
before.  Nearly 50% those released from
prison commit another crime within a year. 
The economic cost of reoffending is as much as £13 billion and the human
cost incalculable.  That’s unacceptable
and that’s why earlier this month we set out what the Government proposes to do
about it.  We can, and we will, do more
to ensure prisoners work, learn and address their addictions while inside but
what happens when they leave prison matters just as much.  At the moment, too often there is a swift
lapse back into the wrong company, a chaotic lifestyle and more crime.  That’s bad for the prisoner and bad for all
of us.

instead we want to see offenders met at the prison gate by a mentor, someone
whose job is to turn their lives around, to find housing, arrange training,
organise drug treatment, and to make sure offenders take advantage of those
opportunities.  We want to see the best
thinking and practice employed to do this from wherever it comes, whether that
is charities, private sector organisations or those currently working in the
Probation Service, or any combination which will be most effective and
economical.  Crucially, we want to use
hard earned taxpayers’ money to reward success, to pay for what works in
reducing reoffending.

Labour say
these proposals take unacceptable risks with public safety and are all about
wild ideology.  Wrong on both
counts.  Probation officers would remain
responsible for managing the risk of serious harm for all offenders and would
manage the higher risk offenders directly. 
As for ideology, bringing new solutions to bear on rehabilitation and
paying for what works is more like common sense.  What is truly ideological is continuing to
believe that only the state can have good ideas, but it wouldn’t be fair to
accuse Labour of that in this context. 
After all, they legislated to bring competition into rehabilitation in
2007.  As so often, they passed the law,
but did nothing with it.  We intend to
put it to work to drive down reoffending.

proposals have another significant benefit. 
Every year 46,000 offenders sentenced to prison terms of 12 months or less
leave custody with no ongoing supervision or intervention.  Their reoffending rates are even higher than
the average, at nearly 60%.  A lack of
engagement with this group of offenders is crazy and we intend to close that
gap, making those who secure contracts to provide rehabilitative services
responsible for turning around those lives too. 
By competing rehabilitation services, we can afford to do so.

We are
changing sentencing so that more of the right people go to prison, for example
with a mandatory life sentence for the second serious sexual or violent
offence.  We are expecting more of
prisoners as they serve their sentence, including more purposeful activity, and
we will work with those inside and outside the criminal justice system to
transform rehabilitation.  We will do
this to bring down reoffending, because that means fewer victims, less misery
for communities and less cost to the taxpayer.

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