Prisoner rehabilitation and resettlement
Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Muslims in UK prisons has increased a staggering 143%. Despite constituting 4.8% of the UK population in 2011, according to analysis by the Ministry of Justice in 2013, 14.4% of the total prison population identify themselves as Muslim. These figures show a disproportionate representation of Muslims in prisons in relation to other communities.
The community is often found in denial of the problem with the high number of prisoners, and the stigma associated with being a prisoner and an ex-offender prevents the community from confronting these concerns. Local organisations’ inexperience and inability to address the concerns, family isolation and community exclusion can mean once released, the ease in socialising again with their previous criminal associates all affect the ex-offenders chance of reoffending.
Muslim Hands has built partnerships with a number of male and female prison and probation services, youth groups and community organisations across the country to address the concerns of the Muslim prisoners. We are engaging with key community groups, businesses, individuals and faith institutions to build their capacity to participate in the rehabilitation process. We train mentors from within the same communities as the prisoners as they have a better understanding of specific cultural concerns. These mentors provide one to one support and provide a befriending service whilst the prisoners serve their sentences. Upon release, our mentors work with them on an individual basis to help with housing, finding employment and reintegrate into society.
Aisha* was pregnant when she was serving a prison sentence. Faced with the prospect of her child being born in prison, Aisha was concerned with the stigma attached to her child’s status as a ‘prison baby’. She didn’t want her child to pay the price for her mistakes, and to be ridiculed when she was older. Aisha sought the help of Muslim Hands and a community organisation to campaign on her behalf for her child to be born in a hospital and to be placed in her mother’s care. Muslim Hands and the organisation were successful in petitioning the relevant authorities, and Aisha gave birth to a healthy boy at a hospital. Aisha has now been released and is reunited with her child, and continues to receive rehabilitative support from the local organisation and Muslim Hands who have successfully helped her gain employment.
*Name changed to protect the ex-offender's identity