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Priority A - Intervention Parenting

We are concerned not just with crime itself but the root causes of crime which often involve lack of self worth, insecurity poor role models, and poor education and so this is wide-ranging and long-term. It will not be cheap, but will probably be cheaper than the cost of increasing the prison population and the cost (often ignored) that should be incurred in repairing the social and emotional damage caused by crime.

Parents need to be supported and helped to create socially-secure, spiritually-aware young people. Young people with a strong sense of self-worth, a stable moral framework for living and a desire to succeed and make the world a better place for all. Parenting is one of the most challenging tasks we face but one of the few at which we are expected to excel without training. We offer ante-natal classes for all expectant mums; parenting courses should follow on from ante-natal classes without stigma and possibly mentoring where possible as well. These are being piloted in some areas.

Priority B - Intervention Children

Where children, for whatever reason, come into the care of the local authority, it (the LA) should not only seek to achieve the above but also, in partnership with other agencies and organisations, seek to repair any emotional, psychological or social damage that has been done, such care should not end arbitrarily at a set age but be ongoing as in any natural family and if appropriate with a mentor.

It is important to ensure that the ethos of schools, working in partnership with families, however defined, reinforces or creates the pupils’ self-worth as well as their spiritual and moral framework schools should import the resilience to resist negative pressures from society in whatever form they may come, and to strive to build a better society. There needs to be close co-operation between schools, social services, police, faith groups and other agencies and organisations to help achieve this.

Priority C - Mentoring

Mentoring is a valuable way of supporting individuals who are struggling at any stage in their lives, whether it is an older mum mentoring a younger one, a reformed drug addict mentoring youngsters heading for addiction, successful members of society getting alongside those who are failing, or potential high-fliers being supported by existing high-fliers.

Priority D - Prisons

The Wolfe report after the Strangeways riots in Manchester stated that Prisons should be no further than fifty miles from an offender’s home.

Due to prison overcrowding and the location of existing prisons this is not the case, this is particularly true in Wales where there is no women’s prison the nearest being Eastwood Park near Gloucester.

Given the value of maintaining family links while in prison it is essential that we have sufficient prisons, strategically located to enable families to visit regularly. This would indicate a move away from    high capacity prisons in isolated locations. Given the key role of women in family life it is essential that we have at least two women’s prisons in Wales (one north, one south), and that there are women’s units attached to other prisons where practical.

Also there is a big need for a men’s prison in North Wales rather than in Liverpool which is the present situation.

Where for whatever reasons a prisoner is kept a long way from home, ways of facilitating visits should be explored.

Priority E – De-criminalisation of some drugs offences.

There has been a move in recent years to increase the number of things that can lead to a criminal conviction and to a subsequent criminal record. This has huge effects on individual’s future prospects and also increases cost to the criminal justice system using resources that could be used elsewhere.

Christian opinion is divided on the de-criminalisation of drug use but there is certainly a case to look again at who is being convicted as a matter of urgency.

There is also a case to look again at what class illegal drugs are categorised at.

Priority F – Detox and Rehabilitation Programmes.

There is though a need for treatment rather than punishment for those who are users of illegal and harmful substances and this needs to be taken forward. Reduced cost for prison sentences could release some money for more drug treatment programmes.

Compulsory detox and rehabilitation could be a good compromise on this matter. Linked with employment and accommodation opportunities for those without these things, it could prove very effective.

Christian Context

At the heart of the Gospel is a message of justice together with restoration and this is at the root of this manifesto.

There is also an emphasis upon family life and so the need to prevent breakdown of the family unit, this has inspired the request for local prisons in particular for women who are still the main carer for a child.

We do not believe prison should just be about punishment but should follow the Christian principle of restoration, forgiveness and compensating the victim in some way for what they have done.

Lastly Christian community is important and as a first step helping people to become members of the community in which they live is very important.  People often need help to do this rather than putting them in to prison which widens the gap for the person.

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Gweini: Evangelical Alliance Wales working with other Christian agencies in the nation.
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