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4 July 2013, 06:00
Four prisons in the East have been named as part of a network of resettlement jails unveiled by the Justice Secretary.
It's part of a shake-up of the prison estate bringing in 70 resettlement prisons which will see the majority of offenders released from prisons in, or close to, the area in which they will live, Chris Grayling said.
Existing prisons up and down the country will function as resettlement prisons, including Norwich, Highpoint, Sudbury and Hollesley Bay, with a trial starting in the north west of England in the autumn.
Mr Grayling said: "Rehabilitation in the community must begin behind the prison walls and follow offenders out through the gates if we are to stand a chance of freeing them from a life of crime.
"Currently a local area could expect to receive offenders from dozens of prisons across the country - this is hopeless.
"It is little wonder we have such high reoffending rates when you have a prisoner leaving HMP Liverpool, given a travel permit to get them home to the south coast, and then expected to simply get on with it.
"This approach is a significant step forwards in our reforms to tackle reoffending and lays the groundwork for building a genuine nationwide network of 'through the gate' supervision and support for all offenders.''
The Government wants every offender released from custody to receive statutory supervision and rehabilitation in the community.
The Offender Rehabilitation Bill currently before Parliament will extend statutory supervision to 50,000 short-sentenced offenders each year, who will serve their time in custody in a resettlement prison and come out to a tailored package of supervision and support.
Inmates serving longer sentences will be moved to a resettlement prison at least three months before the end of their time in custody.
The women's estate is subject to a separate review announced by the Justice Secretary in January, which will report later in the summer.
Paul McDowell, chief executive of crime reduction charity Nacro and a former Governor of Brixton Prison, said: "We are still sending too many people to prison when they could be better dealt with in the community - especially many of those serving short prison sentences.
"But putting communities at the heart of the criminal justice system through the development of resettlement prisons is a step in the right direction.
"We need to make sure that preparing offenders for their release begins at the earliest point of entry into custody. It is critically important to ensure that offenders are given appropriate support by someone in their own community.
"This is the best place for them re-build relationships with families, deal drug or alcohol problems and get the help they need with mental health issues.
"By tackling these issues, in local communities, we have a genuine opportunity to reduce reoffending and the creation of more victims of crime.''
The Justice Secretary also plans to build a £250 million super-prison in North Wales, while he announced a raft of prison closures covering some 2,600 inmate places in January.