UK & World News
UK Prisons 'Are Revolving Door For Offenders'
More than one in three offenders sentenced in the year up to September 2013 had 10 or more previous convictions, Sky News can reveal.
Figures released by the Ministry of Justice lay bare the scale of career criminality across England and Wales.
Of the 177,597 people with prior convictions running into double figures, 14,646 had more than 50.
Sky News was given exclusive access to Wormwood Scrubs in London, where one prisoner explained he had 20 convictions and 10 prison sentences behind him at the age of 34.
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said prisoners released into society had a huge "temptation" to turn to alcohol or drugs and slip back into the lifestyle that landed them in jail in the first place.
He said one of the problems was that people who carried out short jail sentences of under 12 months were released with no support whatsoever.
Today's figures show that over a six-year period - up to 2011 - huge numbers of crimes were committed by people who had been let out of prison just months earlier.
There were 84,564 thefts including burglary, 11,751 violent crimes and 901 sexual offences committed within a year of a short sentence ending.
The MoJ is hoping to reduce such crimes by a change this June that will see the vast majority of offenders, including those on short sentences, face supervision for a year after release.
The prisoner - who asked not to be named - said he repeatedly slipped back into a cycle of committing commercial burglaries.
One of the biggest problems was a lack of housing when he left prison, leaving him surrounded by the "wrong people" who encouraged the criminal behaviour.
He said his family were devastated as they were hard-working and had brought him up the right way.
"It breaks (my mum's) heart, and that breaks my heart," he said.
Locked up alongside him in the prison's C-wing were the same faces again and again, he added, calling it a "revolving door".
He said he hoped a mentoring scheme at the prison, which will see him met at the gates by a volunteer, will help place him on a better path.
David Redhouse, the deputy governor at Wormwood Scrubs, said the important thing was to try to get prisoners through the first few months as that was when re-offending rates were highest.
He said the men in C-wing were at a crossroads when they walked out - and needed support to encourage them not to return to criminality.
Mr Redhouse described how the prison used vocational training - with painting courses, job sessions, welfare support and IT classes. There was also a programme through which prisoners come face-to-face with victims.