DURHAM Prison has been included in a new proposal to release prisoners directly into the areas in which they intend to live.
A network of resettlement jails was unveiled by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling as part of a shake-up of the prison estate.
It includes the introduction of 70 resettlement prisons across England and Wales – including Durham – which will see the majority of offenders released from prisons in, or close to, the area where they will live. Existing prisons will function as resettlement prisons, with a trial starting in the North West in the autumn.
Mr Grayling said the Government plans to build a £250million super-prison in North Wales, while he announced a raft of prison closures covering some 2,600 inmate places in January.
Mr Grayling said: “Rehabilitation in the community must begin behind the prison walls and follow offenders out through the gates if we are to stand a chance of freeing them from a life of crime.
“Currently, a local area could expect to receive offenders from dozens of prisons across the country. This is hopeless. It is little wonder we have such high reoffending rates when you have a prisoner leaving HMP Liverpool, given a travel permit to get them home to the south coast, and then expected to simply get on with it.
“This approach is a significant step forwards in our reforms to tackle reoffending and lays the groundwork for building a genuine nationwide network of ‘through the gate’ supervision and support for all offenders.”
Inmates serving longer sentences will be moved to a resettlement prison at least three months before the end of their time in custody.
The women’s estate is subject to a separate review, which will report later in the summer.
Paul McDowell, chief executive of crime reduction charity Nacro and a former Governor of Brixton Prison, in south London, said: “We are still sending too many people to prison when they could be better dealt with in the community – especially many of those serving short prison sentences.
“But putting communities at the heart of the criminal justice system through the development of resettlement prisons is a step in the right direction.
“We need to make sure that preparing offenders for their release begins at the earliest point of entry into custody.
“It is critically important to ensure that offenders are given appropriate support by someone in their own community.”