Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS) working with RECOOP
PAS is a legal advice charity which advises serving prisoners on their rights (or the lack of them) within the prison system in England and Wales. As well as corresponding with prisoners and providing telephone advice, we carry out outreach visits to prisons. The majority of these are conducted in partnership with other NGOs already working within the prisons concerned and over the past few years we have developed a good working relationship with RECOOP at Leyhill, Eastwood Park, Manchester and Kirkham prisons. As a result of this, last year we were contacted by Sandra, who works for RECOOP at Guys Marsh and Erlestoke, and who invited us to come and speak to the groups she runs at these prisons.
Since then a PAS caseworker has been to a RECOOP session at each of these prisons on three occasions and we are working towards making this a regular commitment every two months. The first sessions were introductory with a general talk on the prison law framework and avenues of legal complaint, but we have now moved on to a model which consists of a short introduction dealing with points that are applicable to everyone, followed by one-to-one advice for individual prisoners who need specialist prison law advice. As both prisons are Category C, a lot of the queries relate to applications for Category D, as well as for home detention curfew (electronic tagging) and release on temporary licence. PAS is in the process of developing self-help packs for prisoners on these three, as well as other, aspects of the Prison Rules, and we have been able to use the RECOOP groups to provide feedback on these packs so that we can improve them and make them more in tune with prisoners’ needs.
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