Do we need a Charter for Rehabilitation?

March 12, 2009 by
Filed under: Education Matters 

What would it do, what would it mean?

As I see it, the Charter might determine and set out common principles between the huge number of stakeholders (governors, practitioners, users, voluntary sector organisations, probation etc), informing the future development of rehabilitative practices, initiatives and projects.

Like education, the criminal justice field is flooded with ideas, interventions, opinions, politicisation, and public misunderstanding and so the issue isn’t really a lack of ideas or opinions. Rather it is, on the one hand, a failure to join up the various stakeholders and developers of innovative practice already in operation and, on the other, the difficulty of mobilising the ‘silent majority’ among professionals and the public in favour of a more progressive approach.

Ok, I have borrowed this directly from the Education Charter information itself, but the fit is seamless. The RSA Prison Learning Network is working towards something like this; thinking through how we might bring all these critical partners together to share their knowledge, develop their practices, work collaboratively with each other and in partnership with the prison and probation services, encourage greater understanding amongst the public (and media), build and aggregate useful and meaningful evidence and data and incorportate and embed the ‘user voice’ in every stage of design and delivery.

Comments

  • http://www.markleech.com Mark Leech FRSA

    The current Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is way behind the times and no longer is any incentive for offenders to make a fresh start. Under the Act any sentence of over 30 months means criminal convictions can never be spent. When the Act was passed in 1974 a 30 month sentence indicated a serious crime – today with automatic release at the half way point sentence lengths have jumped and a 30 month sentence is pretty much par for the course.
    I do not believe that we can set any particular time frame and say that if no further convictions occur within it the convictions are to be come spent – it doesn’t mean people have changed their way of life, they just as easily have not caught.
    What we need is a Tribunal to which people can apply to have their convictions regarded as spent, they would have to call evidence to demonstrate a change in lifestyle and the Tribunal would be able to make decisions based on individual circumstances.
    What we cannot have is the current position whereby a person who gets a two and a half year sentence aged 18, still has to disclose that conviction 50 years later even if they have never offended again.

  • http://www.thersa.org/educationcharter Louise Thomas

    I think this sounds like a fantastic idea! The Education Charter is still in nascent stages, but has already attracted support from all sorts of organisations – from law firms to teachers unions to parenting and lifelong learning organisations.

    Your challenge (as was ours) was to write something that was challenging enough to engender some sort of change from the status quo, but inclusive enough that those who felt an affinity for many of the ideas would not be alienated by something else in there. Nevertheless you will always get some people who tell you that it is pointless because everything in there is so obvious it doesn’t warrant saying, and others that reject it for being far too radical. And this is as it should be.

    Consult widely, develop a strong base through the drafting process, use the Fellowship, test the wording, but above all give it a go! The response we had to the Education Charter indicated that there was a hunger out there for something like it, something to coalesce around and to express what we all thought, a platform to work together on – one person told me he’d found it hard to articulate his views on education but now when someone asks him he just points at the charter.

    Loads of practical work is coming from the new partnerships formed around the Education Charter, so don’t let anyone tell you it’s just words!

    • MDP

      The Act is worthless. Once a conviction becomes spent, it does nothing to stop others continuing to harrass and malign a person who is meant to be able to seek relief from not having to disclose. I agree that people who continually offend should not benefit but people who make one mistake and genuinely restore their character need a system whereby they have recourse via the courts to cease the actions of others who care nothing for the rehabilitation of offenders act 1974 because the act offers no protection to the very person it is meant to protect ….

  • http://www.thersa.org/educationcharter Louise Thomas

    I think this sounds like a fantastic idea! The Education Charter is still in nascent stages, but has already attracted support from all sorts of organisations – from law firms to teachers unions to parenting and lifelong learning organisations.

    Your challenge (as was ours) was to write something that was challenging enough to engender some sort of change from the status quo, but inclusive enough that those who felt an affinity for many of the ideas would not be alienated by something else in there. Nevertheless you will always get some people who tell you that it is pointless because everything in there is so obvious it doesn’t warrant saying, and others that reject it for being far too radical. And this is as it should be.

    Consult widely, develop a strong base through the drafting process, use the Fellowship, test the wording, but above all give it a go! The response we had to the Education Charter indicated that there was a hunger out there for something like it, something to coalesce around and to express what we all thought, a platform to work together on – one person told me he’d found it hard to articulate his views on education but now when someone asks him he just points at the charter.

    Loads of practical work is coming from the new partnerships formed around the Education Charter, so don’t let anyone tell you it’s just words!

  • MDP

    The Act is worthless. Once a conviction becomes spent, it does nothing to stop others continuing to harrass and malign a person who is meant to be able to seek relief from not having to disclose. I agree that people who continually offend should not benefit but people who make one mistake and genuinely restore their character need a system whereby they have recourse via the courts to cease the actions of others who care nothing for the rehabilitation of offenders act 1974 because the act offers no protection to the very person it is meant to protect ….

    • http://www.markleech.com/ Mark Leech FRSA

      The current Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is way behind the times and no longer is any incentive for offenders to make a fresh start. Under the Act any sentence of over 30 months means criminal convictions can never be spent. When the Act was passed in 1974 a 30 month sentence indicated a serious crime – today with automatic release at the half way point sentence lengths have jumped and a 30 month sentence is pretty much par for the course.
      I do not believe that we can set any particular time frame and say that if no further convictions occur within it the convictions are to be come spent – it doesn’t mean people have changed their way of life, they just as easily have not caught.
      What we need is a Tribunal to which people can apply to have their convictions regarded as spent, they would have to call evidence to demonstrate a change in lifestyle and the Tribunal would be able to make decisions based on individual circumstances.
      What we cannot have is the current position whereby a person who gets a two and a half year sentence aged 18, still has to disclose that conviction 50 years later even if they have never offended again.