the empire strikes back
Mark.Ivory@rbi.co.uk wrote: Dear David, Thank you for including me on the circulation list for your letter below. The point that we were trying to make in the editorial was that, for all the hard work being put in on the preventive agenda by yots and others, it is very difficult to produce results when the atmosphere in the youth justice system is still so punitive in many respects. That is the contradiction at the heart of the system we wanted to draw attention to, a contradiction incidentally which is certainly not the fault of yots. We would be pleased to hear suggestions and ideas from your colleagues, and you or they are welcome to send us a letter to be considered for publication. Yours sincerely, Mark Ivory Acting Editor Community Care -----Original Message----- From: David Still [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: 05 December 2003 21:07 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: the empire strikes back > Dear Yot Manager, > > Many of you will already have seen the latest issue of Community Care > magazine which features an editorial comment that we believe seriously > undermines the hard work and determination shown by Yots across England > and Wales. The challenges you have faced in the past few years have > certainly not been easy to overcome, yet the impact you are having on > young people's lives is immense. > > The full comment is below, but to summarise the editorial claims that > 'Years of attempting to change the culture of the youth justice system > have failed to make more than a marginal impact'. It is disturbing that a > specialist publication such as Community Care does not appear to be aware > of the fundamental impact the creation of Yots have had on the youth > justice system. > > To ensure that the magazine's editor is made aware of the change in > culture in the youth justice system, we encourage you to contact him > directly to let him know about your experiences of the reformed system. We > know that significant progress has been made and it is important that this > is fact is reinforced by those working in the profession. > > The address for letters is: > > Mark Ivory > Acting Editor > Community Care > Quadrant House > The Quadrant > Sutton > Surrey > SM2 5AS > > or email the editor on email@example.com > > Regards, > > Katie Martin > > Communications Manager > Youth Justice Board Press Office > 11 Carteret St, London SW1H 9DL > T. 020 7271 2988 > M: 07900 137855 > F. 020 7271 3030 > firstname.lastname@example.org > > > > 'Echoes of punitive past' - Editorial Comment, COMMUNITY CARE, 4 - 10 > December 2003 > > Talk of progress is one thing, achieving is quite another. There is no > better example than the government's policy on youth justice, where youth > offending teams have been briefed to reduce the numbers of young people > sent to prison and intensive supervision and surveillance programmes > (ISSPs) are supposed to provide a ready alternative to custody. While > there is some evidence of success in pursuing rehabilitation rather than > punishment, the policy has been slow to translate into practice. Our > exclusive story about Stoke Heath Young Offenders Institution reveals that > the truth is grimmer still: young people deemed disruptive can be stripped > naked and incarcerated in tiny cells for days at a time, a punishment more > redolent of a Victorian prison than of a modern penal system. > > Years of attempting to change the culture of the youth justice system have > failed to make more than a marginal impact. The contradictory nature of > policy-making in this field is well illustrated by the home secretary, > with his rhetoric about being tough on crime. But the contradictions go > way back. > > A criminal justice act introduced by the Tories in the early nineties had > the professed aim of reducing the numbers of young people in custody, yet > they rose by 90 per cent in the ensuing decade and children here are > generally still much more likely to be jailed than counterparts elsewhere > in Europe. The advent of ISSPs was supposed to usher in a fundamental > rethink of sentencing policy. Instead the courts have used them to toughen > up community penalties they would have issued anyway and continued dishing > out custodial sentences with nearly as much abandon as they did before. > The result? The number of under-18s in custody fell by a meager 143 > between July 2001 and August 2003. > > In the meantime, one tried and tested alternative to prison custody, > council secure children's homes, faces cutbacks by the Youth Justice > Board, which wants to tilt the balance in favour of secure training > centres where more emphasis is placed on punishment. The YJB claims that > secure training centres provide better value, a consideration which > apparently outweighs the welfare and the life chances of children subject > to this regime. > > It is time for talk of progress in youth justice to be backed up by > genuine, deep-seated change in a culture that perpetuates the opposite, > injustice. Only then can we be confident that the barbarites more usually > associated with another era will be eradicated.