The Prisons Project is a proactive initiative, aiming to contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders. It began in February 2010 in HMYOI Polmont and now also runs in HMP Barlinnie. There are currently 35 members on the project. The purpose of the project is to provide offenders with information on their rights under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. These rights relate to how and when a conviction may become ‘spent’ for the purposes of employment i.e. when a person no longer has to declare their conviction when applying for a job. The period of time it takes for a conviction to become spent is known as the rehabilitation period.
The information is given through a PowerPoint presentation assisted by handouts. Presentations take place approximately once a month in each institution and are delivered by two project members overseen by one experienced member. A presentation consists of:
- discussion of specific rights under the Act;
- consideration of how factors such as age, time of conviction, length and type of sentence affect calculation of rehabilitation period;
- the use of fictional scenarios to illustrate how rehabilitation periods are calculated;
- an opportunity for offenders to calculate their own rehabilitation periods and to ask questions (though offenders are made aware that the information given is of a general nature and specific advice should be sought from a solicitor);
- information on outside resources, such as APEX, to assist in efforts to find employment upon their release;
- a brief overview of the Law Clinic and contact details in case offenders require any advice or assistance in the future.
The Law Clinic is currently in negotiations to expand the project into HMP Greenock and HMP Corton Vale and a working group is exploring ways of making presentation more interactive.
For more information on the Prisons Project or any other aspect of the Law Clinic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.