Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the new mentor scheme for prisoners in England will support offenders to get their lives back together. He said:
"The bit that is missing at the moment, is the real focus on stopping people reoffending, we may organise a community penalty, we may put someone in jail, but actually, there is not nearly enough focus on making sure they don't reoffend after."
When someone leaves prison, I want them already to have a mentor in place to help them get their lives back together. I want them to be met at the prison gate, to have a place to live sorted out, to have rehab or training lined up, and above all someone who knows where they are, what they are doing, and can be a wise friend to prevent them from reoffending.
Often it will be the former offender gone straight who is best placed to steer the young prisoner back onto the straight and narrow - the former gang member best placed to prevent younger members from rushing straight back to rejoin the gang on the streets. There are some really good examples out there of organisations making good use of the old lags in stopping the new ones. We need more of that for the future.
Whether you are the hardest of hardliners on crime, or the most liberal observer, every single one of us has a vested interest in an enlightened approach to reducing reoffending. We can't just keep recycling people round and round the system.