In a bid to rehabilitate prisoners, inmates from Leyhill prison could soon be undertaking work in many of Weston-super-Mare's parks.
The staff at HMP Leyhill approached Weston Town Council with the suggestion that inmates, at the right stage in their rehabilitation, are provided with the opportunity to work on projects in areas managed by the council.
This was voted upon, and subsequently approved. Leyhill is an open prison, designed to help integrate prisoners back in to society as they near release. Because of this, most of the prisoners are deemed 'low risk', with many showing good behaviour throughout their sentence. There will be a thorough risk check and full supervision throughout any projects undertaken, ensuring that their is absolutely no risk to the local public.
Providing offenders with skills and trades that they can go into when they leave prison has been proven to be hugely effective in lowering re-offending rates. Allowing inmates that have consistently displayed good behaviour, and are near being allowed back in to the community, to get practical work experience and interaction in the outside world is certainly a further step in enabling a seamless integration back in to society.
The council’s grounds manager has suggested a number of potential projects, including making memorial benches and cemetery signs, and repairing the stone wall, repointing boundary walls and repairing steps in the cemetery.
Other tasks could include planting flower beds in Grove Park, Clarence Park and Weston Railway Station and improving boundary walls at allotments.
Weston College is the OLASS provider for the South West of England, providing inmates with a wide range of practical skills including horticulture, carpentry and construction.