Second Chances

Dominique Parry Parker, 22, Manchester

0728_Young Leaders_0005_DOMINIQUE.jpg

The maximum prison sentence in this country is 25 years. You can get out in 15 with good behaviour.

We don’t give 40 or 50 or 100 year sentences because we believe in second chances. We believe that people can return to society. We believe that with the right help people can change.

If this is what we believe then why isn’t it happening? Why are our prisons more preoccupied with incarceration than rehabilitation?

The answer’s simple. Cuts.

You’ve locked up any chance for change with the rest of the money you’ve cut from the Ministry of Justice’s budget. And these cuts have consequences. In the space of one year our prisons have seen rises in drug abuse, assaults and self harm. Suicides have gone up by a third. Are we okay with that?

And it’s not the fault of our understaffed and underpaid prison officers who are staging mass walkouts across the country because they don’t feel safe. If the guys with bats and handcuffs don’t feel safe then what about the inmates? Is this what we believe in?

I know that austerity has hit everyone and that these inmates may not be like the “right honourable gentlemen” that you are used to, but they matter. And they can’t learn a lesson that isn’t being taught.

A prison without rehabilitation is just a cage, a holding pen. It is not dealing with the problem.

I still believe in second chances. Do you? 

Dominique is a member of our Young Leaders programme. The Almeida Young Leaders is a scheme giving young people with something vital to say the tools and platform to do so. Each young leader has been mentored by a writer and director to develop their ideas, structuring a speech and skills in public speaking.