Government initiatives accused of failing young offenders

Criminal justice charity the Howard League for Penal Reform has criticised the government for failing to tackle re-offending by young men.

A new report looking at the experiences of 18- to 20-year-old men in the youth justice system found that, despite statistics revealing that nearly 70% of those released from prison are reconvicted within two years, “little constructive work takes place in prison or on release”.

Over half of those interviewed said that gaining employment would help them out of a life of crime, and a quarter said they needed stable housing.

Report author Finola Farrant said that prison did “virtually nothing” to help prevent re-offending.

“There is an urgent need for the home secretary, and indeed many other government departments, to take responsibility for this failure,” she said. “Such criminal neglect of young offenders puts the public at risk.”

A spokesperson for young persons support charity Rainer echoed the report’s findings, and called for the situation to be urgently reviewed.

“Custody dislocates young people from their existing support networks,” he said. “With little available in the way of appropriate housing or support on release, it is likely a young person will become increasingly alienated.

“In the first week of release they need structured support and access to employment or training.”

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