Chris Grayling plans Titan prisons and authoritarian, Victorian-style corporal punishment for young offenders

Kittysjones here gives here professional opinion of Grayling’s plan to construct a massive, 320 bed ‘secure unit’ for children of both genders from 12-17, which will include corporal punishment as part of its regime of discipline. She contrasts this with care Labour put into their policies for young offenders, with its emphasis of prevention and rehabilitation. She notes that many young offenders are vulnerable kids with special needs, often psychologically disturbed. She recognises that some need custodial sentences, but many others are best served by other methods.

This looks like a massive car crash waiting to happen. Labour MPs have already compared it to Oakwood, the privately run prison. The sheer scale of the prison makes it clear that the children incarcerated in it will not receive the support and attention they need to reform them. Kittysjones states that it is a characteristically Tory solution based around punishment, authoritarianism and bullying. I concur. Everything about it says it will have massive rates of self-harm and suicide amongst it inmates. Young offenders are already very much at risk of these when sentenced to ordinary prisons. Some of the most horrific examples used to get into the ‘Footnotes’, now ‘In the Back’ column in Private Eye. The description also brings to mind the horrific drama, ‘Scum’, set in a borstal, starring a very young Ray Winstone. This scheme needs to be scrapped before it puts any young lives at risk.

Politics and Insights

Shadow Justice Minister Dan Jarvis has said that the Government’s proposed “secure college model” for young offenders is worryingly untried and untested. Young offenders have complex needs, and present challenges that demands “smart, evidence-based policies” that will deliver results, as well as value for public money. But the Government is bringing a policy before Parliament in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that meets none of those tests.
Thanks to the hard work of the Youth Justice Board and Youth Offending Teams, both introduced by the last Labour Government, youth crime has fallen by nearly 40% since the late 1990s. I worked briefly as a youth offending team officer from 2007 – 2009, and Labour’s emphasis on preventative and rehabilitation work, used detailed risk and needs assessment, and support for young people was designed, planned and delivered by collaborative multi-agency professional teams (under the Every Child Matters legislative banner), which worked very well…

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