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Lags the way to cut re-offending

Prison lags are being encouraged to become Dragon’s Den style entrepreneurs in a bid to slash the cost of re-offending across the UK.

Researchers claim that many of Britain’s prisoners already have the skills needed to become successful business owners, but are let down by a system that doesn’t help them set up their own firm when they leave jail.

A Devon-based researcher, Sheena Leaf, found that in one American project, 1,500 convicts learned business skills prior to being let out and this lead to the creation of 211 businesses. Six of these firms now have a turnover in excess of $1 million.

In this Texan programme, even those who didn’t start a new business on release benefitted, with all “graduates” getting a job within 90 days of leaving prison.

The report, funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, has led to a new UK-based project to develop prisoners’ skills in running a business and helping them turn business ideas into reality when they leave prison.

The programme has been tested at Dartmoor Prison in the UK and is looking for support to roll it out further in an effort to reduce the £13bn / $17bn cost of re-offending in the UK.

In her report on lessons from other countries, Sheena Leaf commented:

With Prison Governors given unprecedented freedom to ensure prisoners receive better education. I’m looking forward to working with forward thinking Governors and staff who want to see people turning their lives around.

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Image by JamesP_28 licensed under Creative Commons

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.