Prisoners are too scared to leave jail

PRISONERS serving life sentences at a Suffolk jail claim they are not being given enough help to prepare them for release because of staff shortages at the site.

PRISONERS serving life sentences at a Suffolk jail claim they are not being given enough help to prepare them for release because of staff shortages at the site.

The prisoners, who are serving sentences at Hollesley Bay Prison, near Woodbridge, claim "lifers" close to their release date are not given the support needed to help them re-adjust to life in the community.

They allege some feel no alternative but to deliberately get in trouble so their sentences are extended and they no longer have to face the frightening prospect of life outside.

However, a spokeswoman for the Prison Service last night denied there are any staff shortages in the lifer unit in Hollesley Bay – and insisted a lot was being done for prisoners to prepare them for release.


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The prisoners, who wish to remain anonymous spoke out after a prison officer complained earlier this month that staff were being "stretched to the limits".

In a letter one of the prisoners said: "There are no release plans for lifers. Nothing to get them ready for release.

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"Morale for the longer term prisoners is very low. They are all scared of what's going to happen but at the same time resigned to it all.

"Lifers do in fact run or screw up because basically they are scared of leaving prison. After all, it is their 'life' and they have no other."

Another prisoner added: "One would expect that the system would be geared towards helping ease the passage back into the community – not because the prisoner deserves it, rather because the community deserves it.

"There is little help given in preparing lifers for life outside, getting accommodation and work."

A third prisoner at Hollesley claimed the prison employed only four officers to cover the lifer unit, which accommodates about 30 prisoners.

"With a population of 30 or less to deal with, these four people present are being snowed under with work and unable to cope," he said.

Neil Mason, national executive committee member of the Prison Officers' Association, said prisons offered more courses to stop prisoners from re-offending rather than getting them ready for release.

"There's not a lot available to settle prisoners back into normal society and it must be scary for them.

"It's because there's not enough staff and because it's not seen as a way of stopping them re-offend.

"They need help to be able to come to terms with the modern way of life."

Mr Mason said prisons formerly operated hostels in the community so prisoners were not faced with accommodation problems on immediate release.

"Some haven't got a clue about new technology. I've heard stories of prisoners who can't cope with the fast pace of life."

A spokeswoman for the Prison Service denied there were any staff shortages in the lifer unit in Hollesley Bay.

She added: "A lot is being done for prisoners to prepare them for release and a lot of recommendations are being taken forward - not just at Hollesley Bay but nationally.

"In terms of re-settlement, to be working out of the prison is part of it as well as jobs in the community.

"The jobs in the community are part of the paid working scheme and this helps them prepare for work after they are released."

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