Jail rehabilitation ‘not just about do-goodery’
Calls for prisons to rehabilitate offenders and not simply punish them are more than “do-goodery”, the Justice Department's top civil servant has said.
Nick Perry, permanent secretary at the department, said the devolution of law and order powers to Stormont had allowed for a major overhaul of the justice system, including prisons.
He told a conference on the justice system in Northern Ireland that the police, the courts and the prison system had to respond to the needs of society and listen to the concerns of the public.
Justice Minister David Ford has launched a major reworking of the prison system after scathing reports found the structures needed radical modernisation.
Mr Perry said many wanted prisons to be a place of punishment. “And the harder and more unpleasant the better,” he said.
“The onus is on those of us who believe we need to put rehabilitation at the centre of our approach to offender management, to persuade those who don't, that it isn't just about do-goodery, that there's a real hard-headed rationale to it.”
Mr Perry and other speakers at the Agenda NI event at Belfast's Opera House said the system had to be moulded to meet the needs of victims and wider society.