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Christian prison expert pleads for church action as study suggests 1 in 3 offenders will return to jail

by Sophie Drew

A new report suggests one in three people released from prison in the UK will end up back behind bars.

The study, published by the HM Inspectorate for Probation, suggests 40 per cent of prisoners will return to jail within 21 days.

In most cases, their return was not due to re-offence but to breaking license agreements.

Often, this resulted from social issues like homelessness or drug misuse.
In the wake of the report, activists have been calling for better provisions for those leaving prison to help them get back on their feet.

Sara Hyde, a prison researcher, tells Premier Christian News that people often choose to return to prison because they have no shelter outside.

She said: "It's very difficult when you leave prison, you have a very small discharge grant.

"Often people assume that housing is sorted for you, that you're met at the gate, that there's lots of time with probationers.

"That just isn't the case. Recent reports around women's prisons have found that up to 50 per cent of people are leaving with no fixed abode.

"So you come out with kind of £50 in your pocket, what you meant to do from there if you have nowhere to sleep, and no job, and not had that family and friends network.

"As the report says, it's often not a case of reoffending. It's that people can't get to appointments on time because maybe they had to sleep on the bus all night, so then they miss an appointment, and then they're in breach of their licence."

When asked how churches can help those beginning a new life outside of prison, she continued: "When you come out, certainly people often met at the gate by their dealers or by their pimps.

"It can be incredibly difficult, so I think good intervention, as people come through the gate, those early days and weeks, helping people, convincing people that it's worth it, or that life can be different. "

However, Hyde says "churches and volunteering" often is not enough. She called for Christians to lobby their MPs and call for total reform.

"We've seen the Bible where you have King David and then we see what happens when you have bad governance," she said. "So that matters. This probation problem hasn't just come out of nowhere and it can't just be fixed by churches, volunteering."

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