The lack of a holistic approach to the needs of women prisoners and especially the lack of co-ordination of effort between all the agencies who might be expected to be involved in an ex-prisoner’s resettlement was a constant theme in all the interviews with the professionals, and Kim’s in-prison probation officer had a story to tell which illustrated
the issue very well: After Kim was released, and had been interviewed by you again she went straight home but was picked up again the same night by police as she sat at home watching television. They said they wanted to check her warrant. She was puzzled as she was not on any kind of curfew or licence or anything. They insisted she accompany them to the police station and when they got there they said, ‘You’re being arrested, you’re in breach of your licence and you’re going back to prison tomorrow’ and they put her in a cell. All the time this was happening she was telling them that she wasn’t on licence and hadn’t committed any crime. But she is taken back to prison next morning and tries to speak to several officers, saying, ‘I shouldn’t be here’. But although they checked the computer they couldn’t find out why she was there, so assumed she had been lying and really had been and committed another offence, and said that nothing could be done until Monday anyhow. She was in pieces by the time I arrived on Monday. After several calls they realised that she had been recalled on an old Prison Number and on an old warrant, but by the time she was released, she had been in custody another three days.
I thought that was the end of the matter, but when I arrived at the prison gate, I saw Kim there. She told me that by the time she had got through Reception the Cashier’s office had been shut so they had only given her a warrant to [the main railway station in her home town]. She had no means to get the railway station nearest to the prison, apart from walking the five miles there, and when she got to the other end, she had no means of getting to her home, several more miles. The line the prison took was that it didn’t have to give her a travel warrant because she hadn’t really been discharged, because she shouldn’t have been in prison anyway! Fortunately, I was able to get her to the local railway station, and make sure she had the money to get home.
Sub hypothesis 4.4. Although many new measures are presently being developed to address present inadequacies of implementation of in-prison and post prison measures to reintegrate prisoners into the community, they will not be effective unless other barriers to reform are addressed. Grounds for this assertion are argued below.
In July 2004, two new action plans committed to developing an holistic and co-ordinated approach to women’s crime, imprisonment and rehabilitation are in process of being implemented: the Home Office’s Women’s Offending Reduction Programme (WORP) Action Plan; the Prison Service’s Women’s Team Business Plan 2004-2005. Between them these action plans address most of the issues in relation to the resettlement and reintegration of women offenders which have been raised in this Report. As has been reiterated by the many sources and voices which this Report has drawn upon, the problem of women ex-prisoners’ rehabilitation in England has less to do with failures of recognition of women prisoners’ special needs, and more to do with repeated failures of implementation. The causes of these failures can be summarised as consisting of two kinds: the immediate causes which were familiar to all our respondents and have been repeatedly mentioned in official reports; and the less immediate and more fundamental, contextual causes which were also touched upon by our respondents but which are mentioned much less frequently in the official Reports.
Immediate Causes of Failures to Implement Effective Measure for Resettlement of Women ex-prisoners
Public, political and media ambivalence about ex-prisoners’
place in society