The Revolving Dore

Home Affairs
Sunday, June 28, 2009

My experiences in the Courts over many years have made me increasingly concerned about the value for money of our Young Offender Institutions. The cost of a place in one of these is well over £30,000 per year and, in terms of re-offending rates, they are a dismal failure.The pamphlet raises serious issues amongst which are: the link between literacy, school exclusions and crime; the lack of emphasis at Young Offender Institutions on education; the lack of sport and in particular team sport; and the high number of hours young people spend each day locked up doing nothing constructive. One conclusion I come to is that short sentences (anything under 12 months) are a complete waste of time. No course of activities that would seriously curb re-offending can be completed in such a short space of time. Any offence not worth twelve months should be dealt with by a community punishment. I conclude by stressing the need for a comprehensive re-settlement programme, with a re-settlement wing in every Young Offender Institution which ensures that on release from custody youngsters go to decent housing, a job, or continuing education. If we don't have an effective re-settlement policy inevitably it will mean the "revolving dore".