Charities and businesses are being encouraged to join forces with the Department of Home Affairs to offer new work projects at the Isle of Man Prison.
The ability to provide a range of constructive activities has an important role in maintaining discipline and safety in prison, as well as contributing towards the overall rehabilitation of offenders.
It also supports the Prison and Probation Service’s commitment to combating crime in the Isle of Man and reducing the associated social and economic costs.
Jobs for prisoners in the kitchens, laundry or gardens are supplemented wherever practical by suitable easily-learned, high-volume work provided in conjunction with local organisations.
One of the most productive prison-community partnerships of recent years has involved the creation of morsbags, with prisoners at Jurby making more than 3,000 reusable shopping bags using material donated to environmental charity Zero Waste Mann.
Other projects have included the assembly of pre-cut wooden fence panels and trellising, and the refurbishment of Jurby Church.
The Department of Home Affairs is now looking to build on these successes by identifying opportunities for more projects to be introduced at the prison.
Michael Coleman MLC, the Department member with responsibility for the Prison and Probation Service, said: ‘This is potentially a win-win situation. We can keep prisoners occupied in a meaningful way, while charities and businesses receive a helping hand with certain tasks.’
He added: ‘This is in no way intended to undermine any existing jobs. It is about encouraging offenders to participate in constructive activities and providing purpose and structure to their day. There’s also the potential to learn vocational skills, which can help offenders to settle back into the community on their release from prison.’
The Department is focusing on providing jobs that can be undertaken within the prison, as organising outdoor work parties is often more challenging.
Prisoners are risk assessed before jobs are allocated and then supervised while they are carrying out an activity. And with the criminal justice modernisation programme working towards reserving prison for only the most serious criminals, very few offenders are deemed suitable for outdoor projects.
Nigel Fisher, Deputy Prison Governor with responsibility for regimes and resettlement, said: ‘We wouldn’t rule out work outside the prison, but it is a lot more difficult to arrange. A small group of prisoners were able to take part in painting and renovating Jurby Church because it was close by and we had assistance from the charity Faith in Action.’
He added: ‘Ideally, we would like to bring work into the prison. We are open to suggestions and would like to hear from organisations with suitable ideas, whether they are one-off projects or longer term. This is an opportunity to work with the prison and play a part in efforts to reduce the risk of re-offending among prisoners.’
To discuss ideas for prison work projects contact Deputy Governor Nigel Fisher on 891004 or Nigel.Fisher@prison.dha.gov.im
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