Scottish Government
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Reducing reoffending

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill today pledged Scottish Government funding for a project aimed at reducing reoffending among prisoners released from short term prison sentences.

The £250,000 announcement will enable the Wise Group to continue delivering their successful Routes Out of Prison project, which has been running since 2006.

The investment comes directly from proceeds of crime that have been seized from crooks to be reinvested in our communities.

Routes Out of Prison is run in seven Scottish prisons and employs a radical approach to re-offending. Life coaches work with prisoners serving sentences between three months and four years upon their release. Most of its Life Coaches are ex-offenders themselves, which means they can adopt a hard-line approach that changes ex-prisoner behaviours.

The project has so far worked with more than 6,000 individuals. An Edinburgh University study showed that those who engage with Routes Out of Prison are much less likely to re-offend than prisoners who don't take up post-prison services.

The Wise Group estimates that it costs around £2,000 to keep an ex-offender out of jail through the project, while the Scottish Prison Service estimates that the cost of keeping a prisoner in jail for a year is approximately £35,000.

Speaking during a visit to the Wise Group's Glasgow headquarters to meet life coaches and individuals who have been involved with the project, Mr MacAskill said:

"Routes Out of Prison is an innovative project, and an example of a scheme that can help break the vicious cycle of offending that we all too often see from people leaving prison after finishing short term sentences.

"Providing offenders with support, inspiration and hope is a vital element in turning around their lives and making them feel a more useful part of wider society.

"We recognise that there are those who need support when they leave prison to keep them on the straight and narrow and to choose a life free of crime. That's where Routes Out of Prison has made a difference and the results speak for themselves.

"This money announced today will allow the Wise Group to continue supporting those coming out of prison to put them on the first step towards building a better life for themselves, their families and their communities."

Laurie Russell, Chief Executive of the Wise Group said:

"Scotland's re-offending rates - prisoners going in and out of prison time after time - are among the highest in Europe. The Scottish Government has shown that it is determined to tackle that.

"This new money for our Routes Out of Prison project demonstrates the government's continuing commitment to end the 'revolving door' of re-imprisonment. We hope that this encourages other sponsors to help the Wise Group take Routes Out of Prison to new levels of success."

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