Confidential Sentence Management Programme

If you’re facing the prospect of your first prison sentence the chances are that at the moment it seems like the end of the world is approaching. Prisons are dangerous, violent places, and factors such as the nature of your offence, or your employment prior to imprisonment, can substantially increase the risk you face – equally the way you behave, who you associate with, and how you carry yourself can all have an effect that reduces your risk of attack.

Despite what you may think right now going to prison is not the end of the world and while you cannot turn back the clock, registering for our Sentence Management Programme (SMP) is something important that you can do right now to make what lays ahead a much safer and more positive experience. We are experts in educating people like you about prisons, our SMP is a fully confidential, one-on-one, four hour programme that will give you a thorough fast-track education on how to get through a prison sentence in England and Wales.

We’ve helped some of the most high-profile people to successfully get through their unexpected prison sentence and come out the other side – and we can help you too. Once you know how prison works, how to survive, what to look for, what to avoid, what to aim at, and how to get there, a prison sentence is simply a process that can be successfully managed. The SMP is delivered by Mark Leech who is rightly regarded as one of Britain’s leading experts in this field, he will educate you about how to manage your sentence, put your fears and expectations into realistic order, and make the best of what lays ahead – remember, no matter how bleak the Winter may seem right now, the first day of Spring will eventually appear and making the most of prison starts right here.

Prison - Going inPrison - Doing timePrison - Getting out

First and foremost, forewarned is fore armed. Our Confidential Sentence Management Programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills to get you through the first few bewildering weeks of custody as safely and stress free as possible – and set you on a stable, positive course to get through your sentence whatever your background and/or offence.

Coming into prison for the first time is, needless to say, a daunting experience. For remand prisoners, not knowing how long you may be staying there makes it even worse. All that is running through your mind (if it is not so numb that it can’t function) is the family you have left behind. How will your children cope without their mother? How will you cope without your partner for comfort? Depression, anger and resentment each take their turn to roll through you until you feel emotionally and physically drained – we will show you how to cope with these emotions and provide you with skills to deal with what lays ahead.

Reception is the first point of call once you are off-loaded from the ‘sweatbox’ – the prison cellular vehicle in which you will have been taken from the court to the prison. The reception staff at the prison can appear quite solemn and somewhat regimental in manner, but this is mainly because they want to get you processed and accommodated as quickly as possible.

It is a national routine procedure to be strip-searched. Not a pleasant experience, but they need to check that you have not concealed any weapons, drugs, or other prohibited items on your person – you will be required to undergo ultrasound searching. In some prisons you are then give a ‘prison issue’ towel, soap, shampoo, and toothbrush, and made to take a shower. The nurse comes to take your height and weight and will ask you about your general fitness, you are also usually questioned as to whether you have any suicidal tendencies. They then send you back to the care of the reception staff to have your property logged. Finally you are permitted to put your clothes back on and collect your belongings to take with you to your allocated cell.

If you had started to gain comfort from getting to know the other new prisoners who came in with you, then it is soon lost as you are all split up and locked in separate cells. I remember my first night walking down the wing hearing the prisoners shouting ‘New meat!’ to each other, and having to take deep breaths to steady my rapidly beating heart. The harsh sound of steel-on-steel as your cell door is slammed and locked behind you is enough to send your already delicate nerves over, or at least close to, the edge. The chances are that you will be placed in a cell with another prisoner, perhaps two, it is however usual to feel completely alone at this point as you try to adjust to and take in your new surroundings

The SMP will give you far more information than this brief overview, knowing what to raise on reception is a vital point about being safe, and knowing when to raise it and to whom is vital. Over the next two weeks you will go through an induction process, depending on the prison you are in it can last anything from a couple of hours to a week or more – again we will go through this process with you. Depending on your sentence length it is likely that the prison you are taken to after sentencing will not be the prison you will spend the rest of your sentence in. The SMP will provide you with information about the classes of prisons, which one you are likely to go to and how from there you can progress to others on your prison journey towards eventual release.

A Prison Sentence is about box-ticking, the more ‘boxes’ you tick the lower will be your risk of reoffending and the faster will be your progress through your prison sentence, speeding up your eligibility for lower security conditions, access to open prisons, home leaves, day release and discharge itself. We will show you what the important boxes are and how to tick them.

The first weeks are over, you’re starting to get used to the routine, and the main portion of your prison sentence stretches out in front of you. Security classification, allocation to another prison, offending behaviour courses, offender supervisors, EDR, parole, exercise, canteen, visits, letters and phone calls, disciplinary processes, risk assessments and much more – there is a mammoth amount of bewildering information for new inmates to come to terms with – but not you. As part of your Sentence Management Programme all of this will have been expected and planned for.

You’ll know what prisoners to make friends with and which to avoid like the plague, you’ll be focused on getting through your sentence as quickly and painlessly as possible, reducing your reoffending risk, lowering your security categorisation and moving towards open prison conditions with their town visits, outside work opportunities and even home leaves.

Your sentence doesn’t end when you get out, any one serving over 12 months is on Probation licence until the end of their sentence and you can be recalled by your Offender Manager. We will show you how to avoid recall and how to steer clear of prison in the future.

You’re into the home strait, you will have learnt a great deal over the past few months or years and gained experiences of people and behaviours you really could not get anywhere else. As release approaches you will know that for anyone serving over 12 months the sentence doesn’t end at the prison gate – it stretches into the distance until the very last day – your Sentence Expiry Date. Until that point you will be under the supervision of your Offender Manager [Probation Officer], subject to licence conditions about what you can and cannot do, where you can live and work and even what internet access you are permitted. As a result of your Sentence Management Programme you will understand all of these things and you will also have developed a good relationship from the start with your Offender Manager, and with the skills you have been given by us the chances of being recalled to prison after your release are virtually nil. So wake up each day now with a smile on your face knowing that when you do get out – you won’t be coming back!