It has recently been highlighted by the chief inspector of the probation service that many of those on probation who suffer with drug addiction are not receiving adequate treatment. It’s estimated that there are over 75,000 people on probation services in the UK who are struggling with drugs misuse, but only 3,000 of them have been referred by The Probation Service to specialist drug misuse treatment services.
What is happening to the 72,000 individuals
struggling with an illness, alongside the social
stigma of their incarceration?
This highlights yet another challenge for those with a criminal conviction.
There is urgent funding needed into The Probation Service to allow for adequate resources which support those struggling with addiction. It’s not a surprise that many offenders struggle with alcohol and/or drug addiction, this is not a choice, it is a disease and requires specialist treatment to help people overcome.
Reports have shown that while in prison many offenders seem to receive drug treatment, but that treatment and support for the most part completely stops upon release. This is a real oversight by the criminal justice system as release from prison is a stage where the individual will be at their most vulnerable. This is due to a variety of reasons…
They are readjusting to a whole new world again and trying to re-build relationships in their personal lives.
Often, offenders will feel overwhelmed with their new freedom when they are released from prison because they suddenly have full autonomy over their day-to-day actions again, something which they have been deprived of while in incarceration.
This autonomy and freedom will also mean that they are faced with easier access to alcohol and drugs so it could be argued that this is when they most need the support to ensure they don’t fall back into old habits and temptations.
Reintegration into society after prison is a very difficult challenge. Luckily, The Probation Service is there to help with this, but unfortunately with limited resources this assistance can fall short. If the government are going to spend £45,000 per prisoner per year to keep them in incarceration, it would be worthwhile allocating the funding to make every possible measure is taken to try and prevent ex-offenders from re-offending.
If someone falls back into drug and alcohol misuse upon release from prison this is going to make it hard for them to sustain meaningful human connections with their family or within their romantic relationships. It is also going to make it very difficult (or even impossible) to gain employment and without employment you can’t pay rent or bills and there is generally no day-to-day purpose. In the absence, of all these challenges the chances of re-offending simply grows and grows.