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Exchange visits between RECOOP, The Brookdale Centre for Healthy Aging and The Osbourne Assoc.

Tuesday, May 2nd 2017 - RECOOP

Two members of the RECOOP team visited New York at the end of March as part of the first consultancy trip between RECOOP and The Brookdale Centre for Healthy Aging (City University of New York) and The Osbourne Association (a charity supporting offenders in the community across the state).

This fact-finding and orientation trip was a fascinating insight into the differing criminal justice model and pathway that offenders follow though the US Correctional Services system. The challenges for the older men and women in custody are no different to those here at home, however there is a larger number of them who have completed long sentences. Although some of the punitive sentencing practices appear to be changing, the impact of gun crime on sentence length is significant. Visiting Rickers Island facility that holds over 9000 offenders helped our understanding of the scale of incarceration in the US. Seeing dormitories holding 50 men was truly shocking and highlighted some of the huge challenges for the authorities in balancing punishment and rehabilitation.

Early in April we hosted delegates from the Osbourne Association to show them around our services and work in prisons. We were able to visit three prisons (Exeter, Dartmoor and Leyhill) and a number of community services. They found our Buddy Support Worker services in the Devon prisons, where we are training prisoners to support others with low- level social care need, of particular interest, together with the older resettlement day centre at Leyhill. The pre-release work with older offenders is an area that is lacking in the US and key to the transition through the gate and the support model being developed through this pilot project. The focus for the next stage is to develop some training to support community based health and social care practitioners in New York city.

To be continued….

 

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