Prisons do not make communities safer. In fact, they contribute to making them more dangerous, according to renowned Professor of Criminology and well-known TV personality Professor David Wilson. Professor Wilson put forward this controversial view in a keynote speech at the Annual Volunteer Conference for New Bridge Foundation, a charity for which he is Vice President.
Professor Wilson argued that a lack of focus on rehabilitation, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health support and suitable housing for prisoners on release means that when prisoners are released back into the community, they face all the same challenges that potentially caused them to offend in the first place, leading to a high rate of reoffending and a community that is no safer. This is despite of some improvements across our prison systems, such as counselling available from trained staff (and other prisoners), design changes to accommodate an ever-ageing prison population and phones and email which can keep prisoners in touch with their loved ones.
The importance of keeping a connection with the outside world cannot be underestimated when it comes to helping those in prison readjust to life in the outside world in a way that allows them to move forward from their time in prison and have a positive impact on their community. This is why the work of New Bridge Foundation is so important, as it offers a bridge to the outside world to people serving prison sentences across England and Wales by offering non-judgemental social contact through volunteers to some of the most isolated and vulnerable in our society.
New Bridge volunteers form connections with prisoners by letter writing and visits which reaffirm the person’s sense of self-worth and feeling of belonging in any community, help to aid successful reintegration after release and reduce reoffending, and combat loneliness and improve the mental health of those serving long prison sentences.
Professor Wilson, who has been working with New Bridge Foundation in the role of Vice President for over 20 years, says, “I am passionate about the work that New Bridge does in reaching out to some of the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society.
“The value of a non-judgemental and consistent contact in the outside world for those in prison cannot be underestimated, both in terms the impact on the prisoner and the impact on society. New Bridge volunteers do amazing work, and I am very proud to be their Vice President.”
A full copy of David's speech is available HERE.
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