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Church of England praises temporary release for prisoners
An Anglican Bishop has said the government's decision to give more working releases for prison inmates will have a positive impact on society.
Release on temporary license (ROTL) is a system which gives prisoners the opportunity to spend time in the community for short periods, normally towards the end of their sentence.
Rules on ROTL schemes are being relaxed, to allow more inmates to work and train while serving their sentences, with the hope of boosting their future job prospects and preparing offenders for life outside of prison.
The decision to ease the rules on day and overnight release is part of a government effort to reduce re-offending, which is estimated to cost society £15bn a year.
The Bishops' Advisor for Prisons and Penal Affairs, Reverend Paul Cowley believes these work placements are vital for rehabilitation.
Speaking to Premier he said: "We took somebody released on temporary license from prison. Then from that job, they have gone on to other work and have never re-offended and now are situated back into society, a member of the church and are doing really well.
"So ROTL is an amazing opportunity to do exactly what we're talking about."
Under the new rules, those in open or women's prisons will be able to take up paid jobs immediately, following a risk assessment, where previously only those with 12 months or less on their sentence where eligible to take part.
ROTL guidelines were initially tightened in 2013, following a review by former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling after convicted killer Ian McLoughlin, who had been allowed out of prison for the day, stabbed a man to death.
Rev. Cowley said that ROTL's benefits to society outweigh any risks: "If we want to reduce re-offending and the cost and everything else that it affects; our future generations, parents, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters I think it's a risk that that we have to take."
Rev. Cowley said the reasons why people commit crimes are complex and we need to take the time to understand their background and situation to support their integration back into society.
He told Premier: "The Church can do an amazing amount of work to help these men and women when they come out especially to have a community around them that can support them, mentor them and help them through this transition from being locked up to being free."
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