PrisonWorks, a charity based at the Isle of Man prison at Jurby, has won the Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2014.
The volunteer-led organisation claimed the prestigious UK award in recognition of its restorative programmes, which help prisoners address the consequences of their actions.
The award was presented to PrisonWorks by the former Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group in the House of Commons in Westminster on Tuesday.
This annual award for outstanding rehabilitative work with prisoners by a small charity or community group, working in partnership with prison staff, was set up in the memory of Lord Corbett, the respected former chairman of the Home Affairs Committee in Westminster. For ten years, until his death in February 2012, Robin Corbett also chaired the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group, to which the Prison Reform Trust provides the secretariat.
The award judges commended the winning entry, PrisonWorks, for the commitment and dedication of its volunteers and their contribution to helping people in prison address the consequences of their offending and to lead a law-abiding life on release.
The restorative programme started two years ago and has given sentenced prisoners on the Isle of Man an opportunity to reflect on the impact of their actions on others and to repair and maintain good relations with their own families.
Through its close links with the community, the charity has been able to arrange accommodation and support for some prisoners on release as well as help to change the attitudes of people on the island to living and working with former offenders. The charity has worked successfully to persuade business owners and accommodation providers to offer jobs and housing to former prisoners when they would not have done previously.
PrisonWorks highlights the valuable role restorative measures can play in the process of rehabilitation and making amends. An ICM telephone poll of 1,000 members of the public, commissioned by the Prison Reform Trust and conducted one month after the 2012 riots in England, showed overwhelming popular support for constructive ways in which offenders can make amends to victims for the harm they have caused.
Almost nine out of 10 people (88%) agreed that victims of theft and vandalism should be given the opportunity to inform offenders of the harm and distress they have caused. Almost three quarters (71%) believed victims should have a say in how the offender can best make amends for the harm they have caused.
Commenting, Chair of the judges, Lady Corbett, said:
‘With limited resources and a small but dedicated team of volunteers, PrisonWorksis an outstanding example of what can be achieved to help people in prison make amends for harm done and turn their lives around. The Forgiveness Project was equally impressive for its involvement of former offenders, victims and prison staff in helping people to make amends.’
Juan Watterson MHK, Minister for the Department of Home Affairs in the Isle of Man, added:
‘I’m delighted that PrisonWorks has achieved national recognition for its role in supporting efforts to reduce reoffending in the Isle of Man. The charity’s work links in with our flagship Criminal Justice Strategy, which is placing renewed focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners. Restorative justice is at the forefront of our thinking as we continue to explore alternative approaches to sentencing.’
Alison Gomme, Governor, Isle of Man prison, said:
‘Living in a small island community it can be harder for people to make a fresh start and put their past behind them. The contribution of PrisonWorks has been vital in helping prisoners address the consequences of their offending and enabling them to get the help and support they need to lead a law abiding life.’