C4’s new documentary How to Stay Out of Jail follows criminals on a tough 16-week rehabilitation support scheme, which could stop them going to prison
Durham Constabulary are on a mission not to send criminals to prison; instead, offenders are given the chance to have their slate wiped clean if they complete Checkpoint, a tough 16-week programme designed to find out why they offended, as we see in C4’s documentary How to Stay Out of Jail.
This documentary follows participants, including Sam and John, to see if it can prevent reoffending.
Sam, from County Durham, is facing a hefty prison sentence and the removal of her children, having been charged with drink-driving and child neglect.
John (pictured top) has been referred for assault after hitting his nine-year-old son with a leather belt.
He’d been sent home from school for apparently making a racist comment.
‘It was the end – I didn’t know what else I could do with him,’ says John.
‘I know that what I did was wrong and I’ll accept the consequences.’
Checkpoint is no soft option, though.
Everyone on the scheme must sign a contract, confessing to their crimes, agreeing not to reoffend and to be subject to a range of tough measures.
Many are given anger management courses, drug rehabilitation or mental-health support.
For some, it proves too much.
Repeat offender John Thompson is facing 14 years in prison for handling stolen goods to fund his drug habit.
But regular missed appointments means he’s soon thrown off the Checkpoint course and jail time is on the cards.
Meanwhile, following regular counselling for his depression, John’s relationship with his son is better than ever and Sam has also turned over a new leaf for the sake of her children.
‘I could have lost them,’ she admits.
‘I’m lucky that I’ve been given a chance to learn from my mistake and turn things around.
‘I’m never going to do anything like that again.’
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