Wish for 2017: Keeping alive Winston Churchill’s unfaltering faith “that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man.”

A last minute blog before the curtains fall on 2016. As a year, will it get a rapturous applause and an encore I wonder? No, I don’t think it will. Not from the point of view of one of my main blog themes – prisons – at least. A re-wind to the beginning and a second chance…? Well that would be wonderful.

This time last year I was excited. I think all those who work in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) were. We were facing unprecedented possibilities of genuine reform within the sector. As Justice Secretary, Michael Gove had done his homework thoroughly, rather ironically consulting and listening to the experts more than most of his predecessors had done. He commissioned Dame Sally Coates to create the Education ReviewUnlocking Potential to which even individuals like me were given an opportunity to contribute. My ambition to make the case for the arts at government level was looking set to be realized.

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Is re-habilitation even the right word?

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Stone carving project at HMYOI Reading as part of the Learning to Learn through the Arts Scheme

I feel like Government ministers have suddenly found a new word and are bandying it around like children who think they have discovered it. We are now in a ‘Rehabilitation Revolution’, a Prison Spring of sorts. And of course I welcome it and it is music to my ears to hear ministers finally and seriously presenting measures that are designed to have an impact on the ‘revolving door’ syndrome of our current Criminal Justice System. But something is also making me want to weep.

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