April 9 2019 10:30-12:30

Over the last decade the prison system has deteriorated into crisis with violence against staff and other inmates, as well as self-harm reaching record levels. Austerity has turned a relatively stable service into a political nightmare that is causing immense human suffering for prisoners, staff, and victims alike. At the heart of the issues facing the prison system is the fact that the service users (in this case, the prisoners) are not properly consulted when policy is being made. Prison is a space where things are “done to” people, instead of “done with”. To be a prisoner is to be the subject of policymakers often based far away from where their actions have consequences. Without the insight that comes from lived experience, and the legitimacy that comes from collaboration, it is difficult to see a way out from where we are now. What do prisoners need in order to desist from criminal offending? What are the barriers that impede on rehabilitation, and make reoffending more likely? What effect will the recently announced roll out of incapacity spray (PAVA) have on prisoner-staff relationships? These are all questions that require prisoners input in order to answer. To change the way we approach policymaking in order to make the engagement and involvement of service users a standard across the sector, we need to build a social movement. Only by building a movement which connects service users, VSO’s and policymakers together can we sustain the changes societies most vulnerable need. Paula Harriott of Prison Reform Trust will conduct a workshop exploring the challenges and opportunities that exist when building a movement towards change, based on her lived experience as not only a ‘change maker’ in the VSO sector, but also as a former prisoner. The perfect session for anyone working in service user involvement, policymakers or anyone with an interest in criminal justice matters. 

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