Child im­pris­on­ment is wrong – let’s end it

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

Mark John­son is right that we should feel deeply un­com­fort­able about in­car­cer­at­ing chil­dren (Chil­dren in prison are strug­gling but no one re­ally cares, 7 Novem­ber). Of­fi­cial data shows that 42% of chil­dren in young of­fender in­sti­tu­tions were pre­vi­ously in care and one in five is dis­abled. A high num­ber of chil­dren en­ter prison al­ready the sub­ject of lo­cal au­thor­ity child pro­tec­tion plans. Men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties are com­mon. Yet pris­ons can­not meet even chil­dren’s very ba­sic needs, with many locked in their cells for 22 hours a day and kept per­ma­nently scared and hun­gry.

We have come to­gether to say enough is enough. Later this month, in the House of Lords, we launch Eng­land’s first col­lab­o­ra­tive cam­paign to end child im­pris­on­ment. Chil­dren’s lives, well­be­ing and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion are mat­ters for the so­cial wel­fare sys­tem. The mi­nor­ity of chil­dren who have to be de­tained for safety rea­sons should be looked af­ter in places where all of their needs are met, and their rights pro­tected. Th­ese es­tab­lish­ments must be man­aged within our child wel­fare sys­tem, rather than the part of govern­ment re­spon­si­ble for adult im­pris­on­ment.

Ar­ti­cle 39,

Carolyne Wil­low Deb­o­rah Coles Frances Crook Barry An­der­son Atkin­son Mag­gie Richard Gar­side

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