Giving a released prisoner a bank account with a debit card in the city he is being released to is an excellent idea, simple but good, as reported by the Guardian; with the revelation that it began at a privately run prison!
In the college-based criminal rehabilitation program I developed and managed from 1975 to 1978, we created a social survival skills class, for college credit, that addressed these type of issues (opening a bank account, renting an apartment, interviewing, dating etiquette, parenting, etc.).
“There are times when even though something stares you in the face, you cannot see it. So it was when I heard of the scheme, by the Co-operative bank, to supply bank accounts to serving prisoners. That was in 2006 and although I thought it a good idea (I am for anything that "normalises" prisoners) I had no idea how effective it would be in reducing reoffending rates.
“The project started at Forest Bank, a private jail in Manchester, after a member of staff realised the problems prisoners without a bank account faced when they were discharged and approached the Co-op bank seeking their help. Within a year, 500 inmates had opened accounts and 193 of them were tracked on release and a report on their progress was published by the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion at John Moores University, Liverpool.
“The report that 37% of those monitored had reoffended, compared to the national reoffending rate of about 76%, a 50% decrease. Massively promising, but would those figures hold up, or were they a flash in the pan? The Co-op and the university have now published more up-to-date figures and those leaving jail with bank accounts are still half as likely to reoffend as those without.
“Of those on the pilot, leaving prison with a bank account, almost 80% said they had never had one before. Interviewing some of them provided some revealing responses. "Having an account gave me a sense of self-respect, made me feel part of society," said Jonathan. "It [the account] opened many doors and gave me a sense of identity," said another. "All I knew about was the giro," said another, "and I used to go in and draw it out. Knew nothing about banks."