Recent findings have proven that HMP Grendon, a model for therapeutic care, is the only UK prison to have proven to reduce reoffending rates.
Last month Cherie visited Grendon Prison to observe their therapeutic regime. She was given a tour and took part in a Q&A session with the inmates. She also met with Dr Peter Bennett; Governor and Professor Michael Brookes; Director of Therapeutic Communities.
Recent findings have proven that HMP Grendon, a model for therapeutic care, is the only UK prison to have proven to reduce reoffending rates. A radical 1960's experiment, Grendon is the only prison in Europe to operate solely as a therapeutic community. All 187 male inmates have made a personal choice to serve at Grendon rather than in mainstream jails and by consenting to serve their time there they are signing up for an intensive programme of therapy. Each wing has its own psychologist and psychotherapist and the inmates are encouraged to sign up for one of a selection of group therapy sessions. James, an inmate serving life for robbery said: I want to understand why I'm violent, why I'm angry, why I'm on drugs.
Mainstream prisons rarely ask prisoners to confront their past actions or the type of person they are, although Grendon's dropout rate is about 20% and therapy does not work for everyone. However Grendon experiences the lowest number of assaults of any prison in the UK and reduces the chances of reoffending, as well as having some of the lowest rates of drug use and self harm.
Rami, an inmate serving life for GBH says: In most prisons if you come in aged 22 and stay for 10 years, you will come out still acting like you're 22. Grendon does things differently. They give you the language of a straight guy and they show you how to live a normal life.
Unfortunately the political tide has turned against such liberal initiatives preventing more prisons from being run like Grendon. Given Grendon's success, it seems we should be investigating whether the prison's therapeutic regime might be suitable for more inmates rather than less. If Grendon can move from radical experiment to mainstream practice, then maybe its excellent results on prisoner welfare, democratic accountability and reduced offending rates can also become less extraordinary.
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