Working towards release
For many families nothing can be the same again after imprisonment.
Prisoners' partners may have become used to operating on their own and be unwilling to relinquish new-found independence. Children may have bad memories of life before imprisonment and may not want the prisoner back.
For those families lucky enough to get through the prison sentence as a family, the adjustment to life afterwards can bring new challenges:
The finances were good before - now the kids are getting older and more demanding. Will there be enough?
I'm not sure how to be a good dad - I never knew my own Dad - only my Mum. I could be a good mum!
For children who have been looking forward to their parent or sibling coming home, the experience can be similar to the arrival of a new baby - all the attention is focused on the newcomer, creating jealousy and tension. All professionals working with such families need to continue support after the release of the family member as parents and children need to learn to live together again and fit into their wider families and communities.
Life for prisoners after release is difficult. The euphoria of release is soon tempered by the realism of their circumstances. On release there may well be conditions to follow: a prisoner may have been temporarily released to a hostel when they had hoped to go back home, there may be tag and home curfew limiting their freedom, there may be courses to follow and probation meetings to attend.
For anyone who has served a sentence of more than a year, just settling back into home life can be very stressful, and for anyone who has been inside for several years, life outside has moved on, children have grown up - even the money looks different!
Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) is the name given to the government's programme for managing offenders in England and Wales. It has run from February 2015, and has involved the outsourcing of a large portion of the probation service in England and Wales.
This reform has replaced the old Probation Trusts with a single National Probation Service, responsible for the management of high-risk offenders, and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) responsible for the management of low to medium risk offenders across England and Wales. The geographical coverage of each CRC is referred to as a Contract Package Area (CPA).
In the East of England there are three CPAs, each of which is currently run by a Sodexo CRC:
- BeNCH (Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertforshire)
- Norfolk & Suffolk
Ormiston Families' TR Service delivers support services to families of offenders serving community and custodial sentences of 12 months or less. Referrals to this service need to come through the offender's Responsible Officer (RO) in the relevant CRC. Professionals identifying family support needs of short-sentence offenders should, therefore, check with the RO whether the offender and his/her family is eligible for a service and can be referred by their RO.
CLINKS is a charity which supports voluntary organisations working with offenders and their families. There is a lot of useful information on their website about TR, including which CRCs deliver the service in different parts of the country.