RSA transitions: a social enterprise approach to prison and rehabilitation

Document type
O’Brien, Rachel
Date of publication
1 November 2011
Criminal Justice Services
Social welfare
Material type

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This paper was commissioned by the RSA to inform the development of a major new practical project it is considering. It aims to set out a vision for RSA Transitions, a new model of community prison and ‘through the gate’ provision which would be designed, built and managed around a culture of learning and social enterprise with the aim of rehabilitating people through increasing their capacity to work and resettle. RSA Transitions would be embedded in the community in which it operates. The evidence shows that local, smaller and modern prisons tend to reduce reoffending more effectively. For this reason, the site would provide capacity for 200 prisoners from the surrounding area, while an on-site ‘transition park’ (the first of its kind) would provide for a further 500 offenders and ex-prisoners. Prisoners would be expected to take on paid work while in custody, alongside more traditional behavioural and education interventions structured around a normal working day. They would be able to complete programmes and continue paid work in the transition park, which would include a range of social enterprises and resettlement services such as temporary housing, probation and employment services.

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