Emma Hardy MP: Government's segregation of young people in prisons is lowering prospects and making them vulnerable to reoffending

To send a child to prison is something that nobody wants to see done. It shows a failure of many parts of our societal infrastructure and everyone would agree that it should definitely be a last resort. Young Offenders Institutions (YOIs) must balance punishing a child for committing a crime with the need for rehabilitation and assisting the child to become a productive member of society who will not offend again on release. The use of segregation in YOIs, in a similar manner to those used in adult prisons, does not create the right balance between these goals. Let us be clear what we mean by segregation here. We do not mean “time outs” as an immediate response to violent or disruptive behaviour, or situations where a child must be physically isolated for their own protection or the protection of others. We mean when a child is segregated in a cell, on their own, sometimes for up to 23 and a half hours a day. The Children’s Commissioner recently found excessive use of segregation in the youth estate, with children locked up and isolated in greater numbers, despite the overall numbers of those in custody falling. She also found that the average length of segregation has doubled, with around 70% of episodes of segregation believed to have lasted more than a week and one episode of segregation lasting more than three months.
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