www.myh.org.uk Young British Muslim Ex-offenders and Resettlement Needs Over one in ten people in our prison population are Muslims. Yet little research has been conducted and surprisingly little has been written about young British Muslim offenders. Comparatively few statutory, voluntary or private organisations understand, or set out to meet, their resettlement needs on release from prison. This report aims to increase knowledge and awareness of the difficulties faced by former offenders on return to their home communities. It scopes the services available to respond to help them to resettle and identifies barriers to effective engagement. Usefully, it offers invaluable information and advice to the organisations and services that currently work with young British Muslim former offenders and those who wish to do so.
www.myh.org.uk Methodology Quantitative Analysis: During the 2010 Prison Campaign, questionnaires were distributed to 3,874 Muslim prisoners across England in each gift box. 319 completed questionnaires were returned, forming the basis of our quantitative analysis. Completed questionnaires were returned from 26 female prisoners (approximately 13% of the total number of questionnaires sent to female prisoners) and 293 male prisoners (approximately 8% of the total number of questionnaires sent to male prisoners).
www.myh.org.uk Methodology Qualitative Analysis: There were three different sources for qualitative data: interviews with service providers, a focus group with ex-offenders, and interviews with ex-offenders. These were designed to develop more detailed accounts of problems in accessing service provision and insightful information into the concerns ex-offenders have around finding help with resettlement. Although the small number of interviews mean the findings cannot be generalised, the important themes generated by the data here will be of use to researchers in the future who wish to conduct a more detailed and extensive study.
www.myh.org.uk Overall themes within the findings Lack of resources - Lack of resources to be able to meet client’s needs, particularly female ex- offenders who have a range of complex needs and often find reintegrating into the community much harder than male ex-offenders. Female ex-offenders are also more vulnerable, and this compounds the problem further. Staff Training - Staff members need to be trained to deliver a service that is both faith and culturally sensitive to be able to have the cultural competency and an understanding of Islam to be able to work with Muslim ex-offenders effectively. Another alternative to this would be to appoint staff members that have some knowledge and understanding of Islam to be able to identify with the background from which an ex-offender presents him/herself. Accessibility & Knowledge of Resettlement Services – One-stop shops that cater for individual offenders resettlement needs in one place would benefit offenders greatly. Ex-offenders also need to be provided with up to date information on resettlement services in their area and the standard of resettlement advice and support needs to be improved.
www.myh.org.uk Accommodation & Support They should provide people with accommodation when they come out and support. Not to leave them, not after they come off their licence, or whatever they just go on to the next person. They should carry on supporting them and I think there should be more people out there to help young vulnerable people that have come out of jail and are in a struggle. (Male ex-offender)
www.myh.org.uk Education & Employment The broad consensus amongst all the ex-offenders that participated in the project was that they would not or were not able to find employment because of discrimination on the grounds of being an offender. Service providers agreed that some licence conditions were quite severe and often more detrimental to the development and rehabilitation of the individual. In one service provider’s opinion, each ex-offender should be treated as an individual with a unique set of needs and problems – and what they need from services is an increase in their capacity to take responsibility for change and reform.
www.myh.org.uk Drugs and Alcohol A needs assessment was carried out in 2006 where the borough recognised the call for a women’s drop in service. Other drop-in services were mixed and they found that women were under represented in drop-in treatment services and this service was set up to make women more comfortable to access services. Bangladeshi women in particular were not accessing the mixed services available to them mostly because it was very difficult for them to face the stigma and shame associated with a substance abuse problem and/or offending. The vision was to have one stop shop, for substance abuse treatment, and a place where the women could come to for advice or concerns around sexual health, mental health and other issues. (Support Worker, Women’s Service)
www.myh.org.uk Attitudes, Thinking and Behaviour When I was with Probation, they put me on the First Think programme, to be honest I didn’t find that helpful at all. Because like, it’s like a group session yeah, and it’s like, I dunno, it feels like therapy, and I’m not there to do no therapy, I don’t want no one in my mind. You’re doing this with like, psychologists and that, and that’s what I don’t like personally. I want someone on the same, like, wave-length, not too into my head. Someone that has experience so I can communicate with them. They act like they’re superior and that and I don’t like that. (Male Ex-Offender)
www.myh.org.uk Knowledge & Understanding of Muslim Communities There was strong and consistent support from almost every interview with both service providers and ex-offenders to offer services that are inclusive and that cater to the needs of Muslim ex-offenders. The interviews suggested that staff members need to be trained to deliver a service that is both faith and culturally sensitive to retain the cultural competency and understanding of Islam to be able to work with Muslim ex-offenders effectively. It is also worth pointing out here that the differences in resettlement needs between male and female Muslim ex- offenders need to be recognised, particularly because of the difficulties in getting female ex-offenders to engage with a service initially. Service providers also recommended against essentialising Muslims and the cultural stereotypes of Muslims. They suggested that other services working with Muslim ex- offenders should try to appreciate the depths to which family and community influence their progression, and account for the role of immigration and wider socio-political pressures when looking at issues around support.
www.myh.org.uk Muslim Community Organisations & the Wider Muslim Community A survey conducted by the Muslim Youth Helpline during the prison campaign in 2008 revealed that 30 percent of British Muslim prisoners felt that the UK Muslim community could have played a better role in keeping them out of prison. The same survey also showed that 63 percent of re-offenders did not find the support they needed upon leaving prison the first time; and, 82 percent of re-offenders felt quite or very strongly that faith- sensitive, community support upon exiting prison would have prevented them from re- offending. Focus group members felt very strongly about the lack of support offered by the Muslim community and the lack of Muslim community organisations offering services to ex- offenders. Ex-offenders have said they feel ostracized by the wider Muslim community and Muslim community organisations, and suggested that these bodies should be filling the gap where statutory and voluntary and community service provision is lacking in support.
www.myh.org.uk Muslim Community Organisations & the Wider Muslim Community But the community, our Asian community is really, they’re really bad as well to be honest wiv ya. I know I sound cynical and everything yeah but Asian people, when it comes to Bengalis and Pakistanis, once they find out that you’ve been to jail yeah they look at you like the dregs of society, they don’t really look at they own selves, they’re not really embracing and that’s what people need. When they come out of jail, cuz in jail everybody’s there accepting you yeah, and then you come out of jail and there’s nobody here to accept you and it’s who you are. Obviously you’ve made mistakes in life and everybody’s redeemable but the people they just don’t wanna give you a chance. (Male ex-offender )
www.myh.org.uk Case Study Exercise Hassan, 24, Aziz, 41, Rauf, 43, Sajid, 35, Khan, 42, Qayyum, 43, Amin, 44, Shahzad, 29, Shah 41, and Safi 22, all live in the Greater Manchester area. They are currently on trial for being accused of being part of a child sexual exploitation ring. Assuming the above individuals are incarcerated, how would you support their Muslim families? Think about: Potential issues these Muslim families will face and how you can help them overcome these. Whether the issues will vary depending on the ages of the convicted.
www.myh.org.uk Issues for Muslim families Household help Media advice and support Emotional support Prison visits (especially for female family members) Childcare Arranging professional help Immigration issues Language barriers Marginalisation
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