Prisons-week-talk-2015

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undefinedThe Criminal Justice Group in our diocese marked Prisons Week (23 to 27 November) by inviting speakers Sheila McGregor and Janina Miklaszewicz from the Community Rehabilitation Company for Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

The group particularly wanted to know how our churches can engage with the new organisations responsible for the rehabilitation. For example some churches use the services of a ‘community payback’ scheme to tend church gardens and graveyards.

During recent years the group has held a large event each year at Thorn Cross Prison. But since last year there have been many changes in the criminal justice system, so the group (which operates under the auspices of our Diocesan Committee for Social Responsibility) this year wanted to find out more about how the changes will affect offenders in the future. So the talk by the representatives of the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) was very useful.

Sheila and Janina told the group's meeting at Church House in Daresbury all about what CRC does to manage offenders on community sentences and those released from prison under licence.

The idea is that by rehabilitating offenders and reintegrating them into their communities the public will benefit from a reduction in crime. And research shows that sentences carried out in the community are more effective and more cost efficient than short-term prison sentences.

Our Diocesan Director of Social Responsibility, Janice Mason, said: “The talk by CRC was informative and enlightening. It was an excellent snapshot of the probation service at the moment. There was a great buzz in the room and it was good to see so many people engaged with the speakers.”

The Criminal Justice Group aims to support prison chaplains in the two prisons situated in our diocese (Thorn Cross and Styal women’s prison) and to help and resource parishes in welcoming ex-offenders into their churches. The group meets four times a year and if you are interested in being involved please email janice.mason@chester.anglican.org

Pictured - the chair of our Criminal Justice Group, Vincent Whitehead (centre), with speakers Sheila McGregor (left) and Janina Miklaszewicz