"Don't abandon prison reform" - prison charities tell Truss

15 Jul 2016

Upon her appointment as Justice Secretary, Prisoners’ Education Trust has joined a cross-section of the criminal justice sector in urging Liz Truss to continue the prison reforms it believes could bring enormously positive change to the system and the lives of prisoners.

The letter states:

"The prison reform agenda of the last year has gained extraordinary momentum. For the first time in a generation, we have an agenda for reform which broadly unites prison governors, charities and campaigners. This progressive approach will deliver local accountability, build job prospects, cut prisoner numbers, lift the aspirations of prison officers and put education and rehabilitation at the heart of our justice system.

"While we wait for the specifics of the autumn’s Prison Reform White Paper, a system built on these principles would be one Britain can be proud of. You have been given the opportunity to transform the future prospects of prisoners, the efficacy of prisons, protect the public and respect victims. We urge you to build on from the past year, listen to frontline experts and people who have been through the system themselves, and continue with these essential reforms."

Rod Clark, PET’s Chief Executive, sat on the expert panel of Dame Sally Coates’ prison education review, which promised to put education “at the heart” of the jail system.

He said: 

“We were delighted that the Government accepted Dame Sally’s recommendations so promptly and unreservedly. We do of course know that implementation will remain a massive challenge; we are acutely aware that a number of prisons are in difficulties and whole education departments that are currently closed.

“But it is essential that these reforms are not delayed. Education allows people in prison to achieve their potential and contribute to society upon release, and has been proven to reduce reoffending rates. Dame Sally’s recommended changes to prison education have the power to transform thousands of lives and ultimately reduce crime and our prison population.”

“We hope that rather than start anew, Liz Truss will continue on the excellent groundwork done by Dame Sally Coates. We are glad to hear Ms Truss has already begun to visit prisons and are looking forward to meeting her and working together to achieve lasting change.”

For any further information, including on the other speakers, please contact:

Katy Oglethorpe, Media, Communications & Alumni Manager - 020 3752 5676/ 0791 2161 536

Editors' Notes

  • Since 1989, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) has supported prisoners to engage in rehabilitation through learning. The charity does this by providing advice and funding for over 2,000 people per year for distance learning courses in subjects and levels not generally available in prisons. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education policies.
  • A report by the MoJ shows that prisoners helped by PET reoffend 6 to 8 percentage points less than a matched control group. Analysis by Pro Bono Economics shows that it would only take a one percentage point reduction in reoffending to be the result of that support for the benefits to outweigh the costs of the investment.
  • Dame Sally Coates' review was commissioned by Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove. PET’s Chief Executive, Rod Clark, sat on the expert panel for the review. Speaking at PET’s Annual Lecture on Monday Dame Sally spoke of her hopes that her recommendations would continue, despite Gove’s departure.