This paper provides an argument for the abolition of child imprisonment in England and Wales. England and Wales is not Ireland, but the cultural and social similarities suggest that children face a great deal of the same pressures, difficulties, trials and tribulations regardless of which side of the Irish Sea they live on. Therefore, it may provide a useful analogy for Irish policy makers. The paper argues that the incarceration of children has a wide range of negative effects on children and is provided at an excessive cost to the exchequer. Restorative justice is put forward as a viable alternative which is highly cost effective and has yielded positive results in terms of recidivism.
- Background: Rates of suicide and suicide-related behavior (SRB) are high in prison. Those witnessing such behavior may develop psychological morbidity. Most previous studies have been quantitative. Little has been written about the witnesses’ qualitative experience. Aims: The aim of the study was to explore, through interview and then thematic analysis, the core concerns of those witnessing another’s SRB in prison. Method: We interviewed 70 detained young men about their experience of another’s SRB in prison. Results: Three main themes were identified: their experience of another’s SRB; their thoughts of why the victim died by/attempted suicide; and the physical, emotional, and cognitive effects of another’s SRB on them. Responses to questions about the witnesses’ experience of support from others, unmet needs, and peers’ responses are also described. Two categories within the theme ”thoughts of why the victim died by/attempted suicide” were associated with being in prison, all others could be experienced in the community. Over half of the sample reported negative reactions to witnessing another’s SRB. Conclusion: Most themes were unrelated to prison. Though many reported negative reactions to their experience, suggesting a need for support, many denied that need. The implication of this study is that prison discipline and health-care staff need to consider how to provide needed support and care in an acceptable form to young men in prison. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
The main goal of this study was to gain a better insight into efforts made to provide optimum education to juveniles in young offender institutions and in secure youth care institutions, and into barriers with which educators are confronted in this process. Results show that for a substantial number of juveniles insufficient information is available about their educational background and specific learning difficulties when being placed in these institutions. This complicates the process of determining which type of education would best suit their educational needs. Several other barriers have been identified that impede the provision of adequate education to these young people. These include frequent changes in class composition, limited possibilities for practical training, and difficulties in finding a mainstream school willing to enrol a juvenile after leaving a young offender institution or a secure youth care institution.
El programa de defensa penal indígena que promueve la Defensoría Penal Pública fue el tema central abordado por la jefa (s) de la Unidad de Estudios Regional del Maule, Verónica Reyes Cea, en la edición central de noticias de Radio Condell de Curicó, una de las emblemáticas emisoras de esa ciudad.
En la entrevista realizada por la periodista Lorena Sobando, la profesional se refirió a los fundamentos de la defensa especializada en materia de pueblos originarios y las motivaciones que tuvo la institución para poner en funcionamiento una línea especial de trabajo destinada a atender los requerimientos de las personas imputadas de un delito, provenientes de alguna etnias.
“La defensa penal es una derecho de todos, sin excepción. Y en este sentido, la Defensoría Penal Publica ha estimado que las personas descendientes de alguna etnia debe tener una mirada distinta para atenderlos adecuadamente porque sus códigos culturales son muy distintos a los nuestros”, aseguró la abogada.
Junto con precisar que en el Maule no existe causas generadas por conflictos de tierra o de tipo cultural, recalcó que la institución dispone de abogados especializados en defensa penal indígena en cada zona de cobertura, capacitados todos para representar adecuadamente a una persona proveniente de alguna etnia en la eventualidad que sea imputada por un delito.
Verónica Reyes destacó el trabajo que realiza la institución para socializar entre organizaciones mapuches, del Maule, principalmente, el programa de defensa especializada, para lo cual se ha establecido una alianza de colaboración con la Conadi en la zona.
Con el objetivo de exponer el tratamiento que la Defensoría Penal Pública entrega a las personas extranjeras imputadas de delitos, es que recientemente se llevó a cabo una reunión en la que participaron funcionarios de la Intendencia Regional y del Departamento de Extranjería de la Policía de Investigaciones, además de profesionales de la Defensoría Regional de Aysén.
En esta oportunidad, el jefe de la Unidad de Estudios de la Defensoría Regional, Enrique Velásquez, explicó a los asistentes las particularidades de la defensa penal especializada de inmigrantes, al tiempo en que se conocieron los procedimientos y visiones de las instituciones invitadas, en este aspecto.
“El tema de los inmigrantes y su tratamiento en caso de ser acusados de delito –comentó Enrique Velásquez– es una situación muy importante, primero que todo por la realidad binacional de la Patagonia de Chile, como también por el flujo de inmigrantes que va en aumento cada año, provenientes desde países con realidades y contextos socioculturales muy disímiles. Debemos estar preparados y coordinados para atenderlos como usuarios con necesidades especiales”, dijo el abogado.
En la reunión se analizaron temas que van desde los derechos y garantías de los extranjeros imputados en territorio nacional, así como la asesoría que le cabe en estos casos a la Defensoría Penal Pública, y los procedimientos que corresponden a la Policía de Investigaciones y a Intendencia, en cuanto a la eventual expulsión del país de estas personas. Para analizar estos últimos aspectos es que participaron de esta reunión, el comisario Claudio García Bastías, Jefe del Depto. de Extranjería y el Sub Inspector Sergio Tillería, ambos de la Policía de Investigaciones; así como también José Luis Nova, abogado, y José Oporto, directivo, ambos de la Intendencia Regional de Aysén.
Para continuar y ahondar este análisis es que las instituciones involucradas manifestaron su intensión de generar una nuevo diálogo interinstitucional, en la que participen otras instituciones relacionadas a este ámbito, y expositores con experticia en el tema de los inmigrantes imputados de delito.
In the early 1990s, Princeton criminologist John DiIulio penned the following words about urban youth:
“America is now home to thickening ranks of juvenile ‘super-predators’ – radically impulsive, brutally remorseless youngsters, including ever more pre-teenage boys, who murder, assault, rape, rob, burglarize, deal deadly drugs, join gun-toting gangs and create serious communal disorders. They do not fear the stigma of arrest, the pains of imprisonment or the pangs of conscience … At core the problem is that most inner-city children grow up surrounded by teenagers and adults who are themselves deviant, delinquent and criminal.”
His dire warning sparked a rush to incarcerate youth of color in high poverty urban neighborhoods. Soon after DiIulio’s thesis, nearly every state in the country enacted legislation to make it easier to arrest, prosecute and imprison youth. The number of youth charged as adults dramatically increased, as did the number of juvenile prisons built with newly allocated federal dollars redirected from prevention programs.
More information about community-based alternatives at the His prediction proved false. Around the same time that DiIulio’s superpredator hypothesis attracted widespread attention, juvenile crime began to fall. Today, juvenile crime has fallen to its lowest point in 30 years. Yet America’s addiction to incarceration continues as we continue to arrest, prosecute and imprison young people who look nothing like the “brutally remorseless youngsters” DiIulio warned us about.
At the heart of DiIulio’s analysis was a racially tinged and deficit focused view of urban neighborhoods, which indicts entire “inner-city” communities as inherently “deviant, delinquent, and criminal.” If such were in fact the case, then removing youth from their communities would be the only sensible way to save them from themselves, their peers and their families. For several decades, juvenile justice policymakers followed this logic, incarcerating youth in prison facilities far from home.
DiIulio and his followers were blind to the strengths in young people of color, their families and their neighborhoods. They could not see young people’s talents, the love their families had for them and the many community resources that remained even in the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods. They could not imagine that community resources could be marshaled to keep young people – even those in conflict with the law – safely at home.
A new study by the Youth Advocate Programs Policy and Advocacy Center (YAP) shows that it is indeed possible to keep youth Safely Home, as the report is titled. The report documents how thousands of youth served by YAP have been served safely at home through community-based programs instead of incarceration.
Safely Home finds that more than 8 out of 10 youth remained arrest free and 9 out of 10 were at home after completing their community-based program, at a cost that is a fraction of what it would have cost to incarcerate these youth. Moreover, the report highlights how youth are best served through programs that build on youth strengths, engage their family members and connect them to local community supports.
This strengths-based perspective is needed as we seek to figure out how to deal with youthful misbehavior in a post-incarceration paradigm.
DiIulio had drastic change of heart just several years after his initial thesis, when he began visiting the same communities that he initially written off as beyond redemption. In the inner-city neighborhoods of Philadelphia and Boston he met grassroots faith and neighborhood youth workers, often in African-American and Latino churches, who were diligently laboring to nurture and hold accountable even the highest-risk youth and achieving transformative results.
In a 2001 interview with the New York Times, DiIulio repented of his earlier call for building more juvenile prisons, saying: “If I knew then what I know now, I would have shouted for prevention of crimes.” He would go on to work for the White Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in an effort to repair the damage caused by his earlier views.
As a minister and executive director of a community-based organization in one of these low-income communities, my prayer is that we would have the same spirit of humility to recognize and build on the strengths of youth of color, their families and their communities as we seek to rebuild neighborhoods devastated by incarceration.
Rev. Rubén Austria is the founder and Executive Director of Community Connections for Youth, a Bronx-based non-profit organization whose mission is to empower grassroots faith and neighborhood organizations to develop effective community-driven alternatives to incarceration for youth. In full disclosure, he is on the Advisory Board for Youth Advocates Program (YAP), the organization that released the study, and CCFY partners with YAP on a program in the South Bronx.