1st Edition

The Prisoner's Release A Study of the Employment of Ex-Prisoners

By Keith Soothill Copyright 1974

    For well over one hundred years society had considered ways of helping prisoners on their release from prison, but there had been no serious attempt to assess in a scientific manner the value of such efforts. Originally published in 1974, this book broke with this tradition and was the first full-scale work published in this country evaluating carefully whether an active policy of finding suitable employment for men immediately on their release from prison had beneficial results.

    The first part of the book discusses the historical development of prison after-care from its early origins in the nineteenth century and indicates how, up to the Second World War, the primary object of after-care had been regarded as the reinstatement of the ex-prisoners in employment. Gradually the specific task of finding jobs for ex-prisoners had become a peripheral activity considered as the responsibility of the Department of Employment. The effectiveness of the Department’s pre-release procedure for prisoners is discussed.

    The rest of the book considers the fascinating Apex project set up to examine the effectiveness of finding work for ex-prisoners. The work of Apex continued to develop and expand, but the present study considers the first five years when over four hundred men were randomly selected from two London prisons and offered the services of a specialist employment agency. The outcome for these men is compared with a control group of over three hundred men randomly selected from the same prisons.

    This study is concerned with the general run of the prison population and interestingly shows how some prisoners accept and others reject the offer of an employment service. It further indicates the enormous efforts sometimes needed to find suitable employment for prisoners on release. The outcome of the job interviews, arranged in terms of the proportions attending the interviews, starting the jobs and the length of time men stayed in the jobs arranged, is vital reading for anyone involved in after-care.

    An important part of the work is the examination of the subsequent reconviction rates for the various groups of offenders and the implication that it seems possible to predict men who are unlikely to be helped by the simple provision of employment on release. The final chapter considers critically some of the assumptions upon which the Apex project was based, and the possible use of computer techniques in the individualization of treatment is briefly discussed.

    The author was particularly well qualified to discuss this subject, for, apart from his work over a number of years with several after-care organizations, the present project involved working in prisons for over three years as well as interviewing and talking to men after their release.

    The findings of this study will interest the wide variety of people concerned with prison after-care. Criminologists, sociologists, probation officers and all others working in prisons and after-care will recognize the important implications of the material presented in this book.

    Foreword by Lord Donaldson.  Acknowledgements.  Author’s Preface.  Introduction: The Prisoner’s Release  Part I: Past and Present Provision for Discharged Prisoners with Particular Reference to Employment  1. Historical Development of After-Care  2. Development of an Employment-Placing Service for Discharged Prisoners (the Work of the Department of Employment)  Part II: The Apex Project  3. Research Design of the Project  4. The Offer of the Apex Service  5. The Effectiveness of the Apex Service in Reducing the Number of Offenders Committing Further Offences  6. Acceptance and Rejection of the Apex Service  7. Employment Plans of Those Who Rejected the Offer of the Apex Service  Part III: Analysis of the Full Acceptance Group and Subsequent Outcome  8. Brief Description of Discriminatory Analysis and Division of Full Acceptance Group into Three Risk Categories  9. The Job Interviews Arranged by Apex  10. An Examination of Whether the Men Attended the Interviews Arranged  11. An Examination of Whether the Men were Accepted for the Jobs by the Employers  12. An Examination of Whether the Men Started the Job as Agreed with the Employer  13. An Examination of Length of Time Spent in First Job Arranged by Apex  14. Development of a Measure to Predict Men Unlikely to be Helped by the Apex Service  15. The Efforts Involved in Arranging a Suitable Job Interview for Men in the Full Acceptance Group  16. ‘Sans Apex’ (Employment Plans of the Wormwood Scrubs Control Group) and Further Discussion on those with No Employment Arrangements on Release  17. Amount of Contact after Release and Further Placing Efforts  Part IV: After-Thoughts  18. Some Implications of the Apex Project.  Appendixes.  Index.


    Keith Soothill