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The State of our Prisons – out of sight, out of mind….

A further report on prisons was released today, with particular mention of Aylesbury Young Offender Institution, where we represent several clients.

The report was based on an unannounced visit to investigate the running of the prison and highlighted yet again major concerns over the way the prison is run.

In 2015, a damning report was released on the state of this prison, but little or no change followed. In some cases, the situation has got worse.

The prevalence of groups of youths, even gangs in prisons, generates violence inside the prison. Making it difficult for offenders to break free of the influence of those people more hardened to prison life when their sentence is over.

Inmates are too scared to leave their cells or they are kept locked up because of the violence outside their cells, meaning they are missing out on education and rehabilitation. The cells they are locked up in are often disgusting and infested, facilities are extremely basic. Inmates frequently don’t get to shower for days.

Something needs to give and someone needs to start taking responsibility. It is not good enough to keep producing damning reports that do no nothing to effect change.

The prison has been given another year’s funding plus additional funding for staff, but is this really enough? Staff coming in are unlikely to have the necessary experience to cope.Unfortunately the number of prison staff have be curt recently and the level has resulted in feeling demotivated and leaving.

The Government also abolished prison reform, which was seen as a progression to better help prisoners. The concern is about stability, which the prison service hasn’t experienced for years. Some young offenders have never had that.

Prisons are out of the public view and most often out of mind. But the vast majority of young prisoners will at some point leave jail and re-join our communities, which is why what happens inside matters to us all and why when we do send young offenders to jail, they should be held in conditions that help them turn their lives around.

Twelve more months for Aylesbury may be too long. As one of my clients said, it’s a boiling pot about to blow. Someone needs to start listening, caring and reacting.