What Happens to Drug Misusers on Release from Prison? An observational study at two London prisons
Mitchell D., McCarthy M.
We have studied the link between prison throughcare and aftercare for drug-misusing offenders. In two English prisons (holding both remand and sentenced prisoners) we interviewed 27 people (11 men, 16 women) who were identified as drug misusers through their take-up of prison drug services and who were likely to be released within the timescale of the study. Through active follow-up, we were able to re-interview nine of them after release. We also discussed the throughcare and aftercare arrangements with staff in the prisons and outside. We found that, while up to a third of all prisoners in these two prisons passed through the detoxification service, this information was not subsequently retained in the prisoner's file, and was not used for release planning. Prisoners were infrequently put in contact with services outside, and community services (health, social services, housing, voluntary agencies) did not give ex-prisoners any priority even when they had previously been service users. While some of the elements for an integrated service are present, better linkages and co-ordination are needed to maximize the benefits of detoxification and drug treatment in prisons. As part of its programme towards drug misuse in prisons, the Government has now initiated new services which will make counselling, referral, advice and throughcare available to every prisoner in every prison.