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13 February 2023

New report led by prisoners at HMP Rye Hill published

Men at HMP Rye Hill embrace opportunity to contribute to national discussion on the impacts of long-term imprisonment in new report.

The report shares their experiences and insights on what they believe progression is; what it should be; and what it could look like in future.

Building Futures is PRT’s five-year programme, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, to explore the experiences of people serving long prison sentences. The programme aims to give a voice to people serving sentences of over ten years in custody, providing them with the space to advocate for themselves, bringing about change from within the system and shedding light on the human cost of long-term imprisonment. Through consultation, advocacy and research, Building Futures is working alongside those with direct experience of long-term imprisonment to demonstrate the true impact of ever-increasing sentence lengths.

A fundamental component of this work is the development of a network of prisoners and former prisoners with direct experience of long-term imprisonment, to allow for impactful collaboration with those the programme represents. This includes developing working groups in a number of key prison sites to allow for long-term and in-depth collaboration with prisoners. The Building Futures Working Group in HMP Rye Hill was established in June 2021 and Rye Hill working group members have been actively involved in this work

Following on from the Building Futures Making Progress report that was published in October 2022, the group members in HMP Rye Hill decided to facilitate their own peer-to-peer consultation within the prison on the topic of progression. Every stage of this work including planning, facilitating discussion groups, writing the report, and putting forward recommendations has been completed by the group. The core themes that emerged from the consultation were:

  • Progression is about personal growth, not just risk reduction.
  • For long-term prisoners, progression should not be structured or defined by their release date.
  • The present system of progression is discriminatory towards prisoners with disabilities and learning difficulties.

This work culminated in a launch event held in the prison in January 2023, which brought together the working group and stakeholders to discuss dissemination and next steps. The Rye Hill group are now in the process of drafting their second report, which brings together the findings from their recent consultation in relation to ageing in prison. We will look forward to sharing more from the group in due course.