There are constant moans, groans, and outcry in the United States about the high recidivism rate for released inmates. American society does not connect the lack of effective rehabilitation and employment for released inmates with our extremely high recidivism rate. In plain English, high recidivism equals more crime. There were two studies that provided a bellwether for a national recidivism rate. The 1983 research included 108,580 State prisoners from 11 different states. The 1994 study followed 272,111 prisoners from 15 states. Both studies revealed that two-thirds of the inmates were rearrested within three years of their release from incarceration. It is recognized that recidivism varies from state to state, but nationally the high recidivism rate from the two studies has not changed today.
Many factors have contributed to the United States having a deplorable recidivism rate. Many of our prisons lack any effective rehabilitation programs that would lead to employment for released inmates. Do we really think inmates in distinctive uniforms picking up garbage on highways lead to their future employment. My pre-release unit did not have any program to teach inmates how to find a job or how to interview for a job. Another inmate, a highly successful businessman, with my help, created a simple program to help inmates find employment. We volunteered to teach small classes for no extra credit or pay. The program was praised, but died a slow administrative death. The program was never implemented despite the demand from other inmates for education about finding employment and interviewing for a job.
The following article discussed how a gourmet restaurant employing inmates in Wales had a 12% recidivism rate compared to the national 47% recidivism rate in England. The inmates were required to have only 6-18 months left on their sentence. The inmates also resolved any problems such as alcohol, drugs, and anger before being allowed to work at the restaurant.
Wales Online – By Rachael Misstear
A gourmet restaurant at Cardiff Prison where the dishes are cooked and served by criminals is helping slash rates of re-offending, new figures have shown.
The Clink Cymru on Knox Road, is on its way to reduce the re-offending rate of released prisoners who worked there to an astonishing 12.5%. The national average is 47%.
The 96-cover eatery employs 28 inmates from HMP Cardiff and HMP Prescoed in Usk, Monmouthshire, paying them about £14 for a 40-hour working week.
Bosses say the facility is going from strength to strength, and after a seven-month trial has now opened one evening – for private reservations only – on the last Wednesday of every month.
Among its typical menu options are “venison and wild boar ragout with game sausage, chargrilled polenta and seasonal vegetables” and a “celebration of rhubarb.”
The scheme is the brainchild of award-winning chef Alberto Crisci, who has worked at Marco Pierre White’s Mirabelle Restaurant in Mayfair, London.
It opened following the success of the charity’s first restaurant, The Clink at HMP High Down.
Statistics show 47% of people who leave prison re-offend within one year – or 75% if they have no job or accommodation re-offend within two years.
Figures collated by an independent examiner, show the reoffending rate of Clink graduates in 2011 was 12.5% within a year.
Cardiff restaurant trained 88 prisoners last year, of whom 26 were released into employment. To date only one of these has reoffended.
A spokeswoman for the Clink Charity said as well as working a full week, prisoners train towards gaining nationally recognised NVQ qualifications before returning to their cells in the evening.
“The bar has been set extremely high to ensure that all prisoners in training reach the required level to succeed in the industry. It is therefore vital that each trainee works in a similar environment to that of a 4-5 star hotel or commercial restaurant.”
When prisoners are released, The Clink Charity helps graduates find employment within the catering and hospitality industry and mentors them weekly for six-12 months to help them reintegrate back into society and not reoffend.
Chris Moore, chief executive of the charity, said as well as rehabilitating offenders, the restaurant helped improve the public’s perception of them.
“The Clink Charity’s sole aim is to reduce re offending rates. Not only do we train the prisoners up to gain their NVQ qualifications but we help them improve their soft skills such as confidence, motivation and pride. They also learn to work as part of a team.”
To be eligible to train and work at the restaurant, prisoners must have between six and 18 months left on their sentence.
They must also have resolved any issues, such as alcohol and drug dependency or anger management. Sex offenders are banned from working at The Clink Cymru.