Second chances for ex-offenders through education

Opinion on 1st March 2015

How Longford Prize winners Circles UK are challenging assumptions about sex offenders' reoffending behaviour

by Peter Stanford in The Observer.

Mike Smith is a sex offender who served a 10-year jail sentence for abuse he carried out within his family. On release, he was sent to a hostel in London, under the supervision of the probation service.

“The only people I associated with,” he recalls, “were other sex offenders. Some of them were child sex offenders. Some of them were rapists of adults. They were the only people I could relate to who were not judgmental, which is difficult because they are not appropriate people to be mixing with.”

Not appropriate in the sense that Smith – who doesn’t want to give his real name or any details that could lead to him being identified – made a sincere commitment as part of his intensive rehabilitative therapy in prison not to reoffend. And he wanted desperately to keep to it, but it was made harder when he felt rejected by the rest of society and so thrown back on the company of other sex offenders.

“I find it difficult to make new friends,” he admits. “When do you tell somebody about your past? I want to be honest.”

There are 11,000 sex offenders like Smith in our jails, roughly 12% of the total prison population. To continue, read the full article in The Observer, 1 March 2015.

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