Two mothers whose children died during prison sentences have called
on the Youth Justice Board and the governor of Stoke Heath young
offenders institution to relocate James Rhoden, a vulnerable 16
year old currently serving a 12-month sentence there.
Yvonne Scholes’s son, Joseph, hanged himself at Stoke Heath in
March 2002, and Pauline Campbell’s daughter, Sarah, died in
hospital in January after taking an overdose of prescriptive drugs
while serving a sentence at Styal Prison.
Both want Rhoden to be moved to a local authority secure children’s
home (Lasch). “A YOI is not the place for vulnerable teenagers.
They are not given the level of health care or support they need,”
Adrian Thomas, spokesperson for rehabilitation agency Nacro, added:
“It should be of the utmost concern to those at the very highest
levels of authority that a child with such profound behavioural
difficulties is being held in a Prison Service institution.”
Rhoden has experienced domestic violence, has special educational
needs, suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has
begun to self-harm and was assessed by a youth offending team as
The YJB places all 12 to 14-year-old boys and 12 to 16-year-old
girls in detention in Laschs or secure training centres. Boys aged
15 and 16 who are assessed as vulnerable can also be placed in
However, there are frequently more vulnerable offenders than the
500 beds available to the YJB in these establishments. Between June
and August there were on average 289 children a month deemed
vulnerable in addition to those in the 500 beds.
Rhoden was placed in two Laschs while on remand, but was
transferred because of his “challenging behaviour”.
Defending Rhoden’s placement, a YJB spokesperson said he was
convicted of a violent offence. If he was put in a Lasch he would
be held alongside 11-year-old children who have a place in the home
on welfare or care considerations and have not offended. Rhoden’s
case would be continually reviewed, the spokesperson added.