Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Harris Review: Changing Prisons, Saving Lives

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Harris Review: Changing Prisons, Saving Lives

Article excerpt

The report of the independent review into self-inflicted deaths in custody of 18-14 year olds (The Harris Review) was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Justice in July.

The review included a detailed examination of the lives of the 87 young people (four children and 83 young adults aged from 18 to 24) who died in custody between April 2007 and December 2013. It concluded that all young adults in custody are vulnerable. Moreover, the separation of young people from their families and support networks is likely to lead to loneliness and to exacerbate vulnerabilities. This has wide implications for the way in which prisons and YOIs should operate.

The harsh environment of prison, '... the impoverished regimes (particularly with current staff shortages) and the restrictions placed on young adults because of their IEP status or because of local policies on the management of gangs, all combine to make the experience of being in prison particularly damaging to developing young adults.'

In practice, it is clear that young adults in prison are not sufficiently engaged in purposeful activity and their time is not spent in a constructive and valuable way.

There needs to be an inherent shift in the philosophy of prison in this country, and so we are recommending that the Ministry of Justice publishes a new statement on the purposes of prison, where the primary purpose is rehabilitation, and which acknowledges that all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with respect for their human rights. …

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