Prisoners will follow a new regime based on the ‘average working day’. The governor of Winchester prison, David Rogers explains that the new working day will be implemented into every local prison in the country from this weekend granting inmates greater access to facilities.
Roger says that the new prison regime is designed to make prisoners ‘behave in a pro-social manner’. ‘It’s about trying to put some regime into people’s lives and about trying to enrich their lives, and demonstrate to them that you can do these things and enjoy yourself as well,’ he says.
‘It will be a challenge for our staff and a challenge for our prisoners,’ but it will be more ‘decent’ for offenders. ‘It’ll get staff to talk and see prisoners more which by default will develop the relationship,’ Rogers reckons.
Monday through to Friday will be focused on work, and the weekends will be their own time, ‘doing what they would want to do.’
Prisoners will be involved in work related tasks for approximately six hours a day, five days a week, with the exception of Friday afternoons where they will finish work at lunchtime.
A typical day for a prisoner in Winchester
Prisoners are expected to get up at 7.45am, eat breakfast and go to work until 11.30am. When they return from work they’ll eat lunch and be locked up for one hour from 12.30pm until 1.30pm. They will then return to work from 1.45pm-4.45pm where they will have an hour and three quarters to either shower up, phone their families or get some exercise, before they get locked up at 6.30pm.
The type of work they will be involved in will be different for every individual, but it boils down to the length of time they are serving and what there issues are.
The Governor says about 80% of people that come in to custody at Winchester have drug and alcohol related issues; therefore these addictions must be addressed before they do any sort of work.
There are different work areas on offer for prisoners including industry jobs, jobs within the prisons such as cleaning, and advocacy jobs, providing a Samaritan service to those in crisis.
But, David Rogers insists that most work is education. ‘Some 75% probably haven’t finished school because they got into crime at a young age. A high number of prisoners who come in to us are uneducated or educated to a very low standard, so it’s our role to bring them up to a certain standard, and that’s what we focus on.’
Roger continues: ‘If you’ve been identified as having a need and you don’t then decide to go and fulfill that that need then we will be very strict on how we treat you, so you may have got away with not doing education previously or going to work but under our new regime you will be punished if you don’t.’
This ties in closely to the new Incentive and Earned Privilege scheme where prisoners will get three warnings. ‘The better you behave the more access you get, the worse you behave the less access you have,’ says Rogers
Education has been incentivised to encourage prisoners to come along. They will be paid the same amount to go to an education class as they would if they went to work, explains Rogers, adding: ‘we try to change the setting, change the focus, don’t make it a place of embarrassment and boredom we try and spice it up a little bit.’
There is always ‘tension’ between whether prisons should be places of rehabilitation or whether they should be places of punishment, ‘I am very clear that it’s about rehabilitation, the punishment is handed out by the courts,’ comments Rogers.
Whether prisoners should be entitled to the same opportunities as other people raises a moral debate. ‘My personal view as a prison governor is I’ve got every responsibility to make sure they have got the same opportunities,’ he says. ‘If someone comes back into custody they’ve cost all of us as tax payers a huge amount of money. If I give them access to education or training or other skills and they don’t come back into custody I’d say that was money well spent’.
‘In the current climate that we are going through, a period of austerity, we are probably better off spending more money that way, trying to rehabilitate, then throwing more money at criminal justice and other areas.’
Recent government reforms that have been put enforced in prisons have been aimed at lowering re-offending rates, to try and rehabilitate offenders so they don’t continue to break the law. The Governor says he is ‘optimistic but also realistic’. He adds: ‘Through the evolution I have seen in the last 20 odd years of prison we are delivering a far better, higher quality, more focused regime for prisoners then we ever have done before, which means by default we have got a better chance of them not coming back.’
Justice Gap reporter and journalism student at the University of Winchester