I’m about to be released from prison – what do I need to know? Task
There are things you can do to help get ready for release from prison, including thinking about housing, benefits and who can help you in the community. Your Offender Supervisor can help you as you plan for your release.
The process of moving back into the community is called resettlement. There are resettlement services that support you and your family to prepare for life after prison. These services may also be known as ‘Through the Gate’ services.
Make sure your behaviour is good
Try not to get in trouble while you’re in prison. Prison staff may record any incident you are involved in. If you’re released from prison under parole or ‘on licence’, the staff involved in these services will look at these records.
Think about housing
If you have nowhere to live when you’re released from prison, the resettlement team can help you. If you have children or are vulnerable, you may be placed on a priority housing list.
There are four main types of housing:
- General needs housing (including social or council housing)
- Hostels and supported accommodation
- Private rented accommodation, and
- Family and friends
Make the most of your time in prison
Think about what you want to do when you get out of prison.
There should be useful activities to do in prison, such as education, training, sports, and jobs. These things will help give you skills and experience that could be helpful when you’re released.
Prepare for education, training or work
The education department in prison may be able to help you write a CV. Also, they might be able to help you fill out application forms for work or training.
It can be harder to get a job with a criminal record. Some jobs have a rule about not hiring someone with previous convictions, such as jobs where you work with children or vulnerable people.
Volunteering may help if you don’t feel ready for work yet. Volunteering can help give you an up-to-date reference and help build up your confidence and wellbeing.
Think about money and benefits
Some prisons have specialists that can help you with benefits. If there is no benefit specialist, the resettlement team should be able to help.
The prison should return all the things you had when you entered prison, including clothing. If your clothes don’t fit anymore, the prison may give you clothes if they can.
Make sure that nothing is missing before you sign for your things.
You might be able to apply for different benefits when you are released from prison. These include housing benefits, child tax credits, employment and disability-related benefits. It’s important to go to your local Jobcentre Plus on release and tell them your current situation.
You will be given any money that you have saved or earned while you were in prison. The prison may give you a travel warrant when leaving prison to pay for your travel back home.
Most people will get a small amount of money when they’re released from prison, known as a discharge grant. The money can help with immediate living expenses.
Not everyone gets a discharge grant. You may not get a discharge grant if you:
- are under 18
- are serving a custodial sentence of 14 days or less
- are being transferred to a hospital under the Mental Health Act, or
- have over £16,000 in savings
If you have found accommodation for your first night on release, you can apply for an extra grant of about £50. It will be paid directly to the accommodation provider. The governor will decide if you can be given this payment.
In the community, you will be supervised by someone known as a Probation Officer, who is part of the resettlement service. Resettlement services are provided by Community Rehabilitation Companies, known as CRCs.
The CRCs might help you with things like:
- Getting help with your mental health
- Finding a job
- Applying for benefits
- Finding somewhere to live, and
- Your mental and physical health
They may also ask for other services in the community such as charities to help support you when you’re released from prison.
Local organisations and charities
Some organisations or charities provide a mentoring service for when you are released from prison. In some cases, someone from the service can meet you at the prison gates when you’re released. They will help you with appointments and connect you to services in the community. Ask the Through the Gate team if this service is available.
You may be released from prison with conditions: you could be either ‘on licence’, or on a ‘tag’ (known as a Home Detention Curfew). Your local National Probation Service (NPS) or CRC will monitor and support you.
Family and friends
If your relationship with your family and friends is good, you might want to involve them as much as possible. Your family and friends may be able to help you with appointments or give you somewhere to live.
Family or friends can also speak for you with services such as probation and healthcare. They may also help support you if you are finding it difficult to return to normal life in the community.