Prison, drugs and impact

11 May 2011 by Karl Hallam

Ken Clarke got in a pickle with the figures about the relative benefits of community sentences and prison the other day. He still seemed to be making good points about the need for rehabilitation in prison and we hope the report in the Society Guardian caught his eye today too. It talks about RAPT (Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust) and their 'intensive, abstinence-based approach to tackling prisoners' addiction'.

The Sun said 'Toughen up, Ken' and that would not preculde him putting more into the RAPT scheme, which is certainly no soft option. 

The RAPT chief exec is the ex-deputy Drugs Czar, Mike Trace, someone Cadence have cited before for his impressivley clear approach to thinking about the impact of a service and or merits of a new idea. See that post here.

In the bit from the article below Trace talks about the savings that may be possible if their approach was more widely adopted:

'Rapt runs programmes in 22 jails, making it the main provider of such services in prisons. The charity offers drugs and alcohol rehabilitation services to around 1,000 prisoners annually as well as more than 10,000 individuals, including users' family members, in the community. Services include counselling, group sessions and peer support – which Wallace says had "an enormous" impact on his recovery.

Trace says the potential cost savings from such programmes are "huge", calculating that for every 100 individuals successfully completing a Rapt programme, £6.3m is saved on resentencing and reincarcerating, equating to savings of £440m a year if 10% of drug dependent prisoners had access to such services.'

This is a good example of a third sector organisation making good use of data to make their case, something we want to help more to do.









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I agree entirely with the point raseid by Costas. Among the two priorities raseid it is the first one that needs the most urgent attention, that of refroming the judiciary. Without an efficiewnt court system all other reforms will become ineffective. The need for growth as a vehicle that would take Greece out of the current crisis is tautological. The debate about whether to remain or not in the euro zone is important, but it will remain academic unless there is a concerted effort (with the help of the EU in this case) to fight corruption. To do that most of the energy and effort has to be spent on reforming the judiciary. The rules of the game are such that whoever “screams the loudest” has better access to the media and the benefit of the judiciary system that is inherently incapable of ensuring a framework on which economic reforms can take place. Without contracts that are enforceable for all the parties involved, it will be futile to introduce reforms. The latter will be unravelled by the inability of the courts to enforce these contracts. For the new reality to become understood as something that requires new bold reforms to open up highly regulated markets and allow for productivity convergence between the public and private sectors, people need to be convinced that the rules of the game apply to all concerned. Until now as we speak, any attempt to bring individuals to justice who have either stolen public funds by not returning huge sums of collected VAT to the government, let alone the known income tax evaders, only results cases that are pushed into the future as these individuals are allowed to walk. The excuse here is that the judiciary is too overburdened to deal with these cases effectively and promptly. I am afraid that unless this government or any government deals with that aspect of the broken system, any reforms will never be implemented. To have any chance of success, let alone any chance to reach a climate for economic growth, there has to be a framework for enforcing contracts that is recognized and respected by all by imposing stiff penalties to all those who violate their side of the contract, whether public officials involved in corruption cases or entrepreneurs not returning the sums of VAT that they have collected on behalf of the government.One may counter, that Greece was growing until 2008 at reasonably healthy rates with the same judiciary and the same lack of contract enforceability system. Yet, even though we all recognize the reasons behind this consumption led growth engineered by easy credit, which led to the current crisis, it is the asymmetry between the upturn and downturn that obscured any need for reform. An expanding economic pie conferred benefits to all, even though these benefits also created “built in” destabilizers that now confront us all. I think, given the state of corruption as the result of lack of contract enforceability, the main reform that at this point that needs to take place, is the reform of the judiciary, for anything else to have any chance of success.

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