Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Prison is not the answer

In December 2007 I wrote to the Joint Youth Justice Unit deploring the fact that young people are sent into custody. The last paragraph of the letter I got back reads: "courts must retain the power to decide in individual cases what sentence is appropriate in the light of all the circumstances of the offence and the offender"

On 23rd. June, 2009 I read in the newspapers that an urgent review is to be launched into the injuries of ten children at Castington YOI following restraint by the staff. How can the courts ever think that sentencing a child to a two year period of pain and violence is appropriate? Any parent who restrained a child in such a manner as to break bones would be in serious trouble.

Why then does the State, having assumed the responsibility of the parents, give prison officers the tacit permission to use violence - indeed trains them in restraining techniques?

Phil Wheatley, director general of the National Offender Management Service has accepted and recommended Dame Anne Ower's (Chief Inspector of Prison's) call for an independent inquiry.

It is outrageous that yet again Wheately sees fit to use the mantra "so that lessons can be learned". When, I ask, will that happen?

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