Time to end the scandal of young people dying in prison

Topic Selected: Crime and Justice

General Article icon Type: General Article

By Frances Crook


The review by Lord Harris of Haringey into the self-inflicted deaths of young adults aged 18–24 in custody is a magisterial overview of the failings in the system. It is the most comprehensive analysis of why so many young people are dying in our prisons ever undertaken.

The final report notes that 101 people in this age group have died in prisons between 2007 and 2014. So far, in 2015, the Howard League is aware of another nine young people who have taken their own lives behind bars.

There are challenging findings for the new Government to consider. Lord Harris rightly asks fundamental questions, such as why so many of these young adults were in custody in the first place. Prison should be used as a last resort. It remains a hugely expensive way to guarantee failure and yet cuts to budgets and staffing mean that whatever hope that prisons might be places of rehabilitation is faint indeed. The review describe

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