Britain’s Children’s Prisons Concealing the Youngest Beasts Within

For more than 40 years, there have been secure prison units in Britain to contain the tiny minority of children who commit the very worst crimes. In 1968, Mary Bell, then aged 11, was sent to Red Bank in Mt St Helens for murdering two small boys. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the children who murdered James Bulger, served their eight-year terms there in secure units. Vinney Green in Bristol houses equally frightening and disturbed young offenders. In a staff room, the names of all the youngsters are displayed and alongside them coloured dots indicate their crimes. A laundry list of criminals sounds like a macabre version of A Partridge in a Pear Tree: one life for murder; four sex offenders; and one is a raaaa-pist. The majority are in for burglary, robbery and actual bodily harm. The boy accused of rape is 14 and was arrested for an attack on a young child at a party. He has severe learning difficulties and is unfit to plead. A big, shy, gangly youth he has the reading age of a six-year-old and no grasp of what he has done. Most are aged about 14. Ten years ago, only two out of ten were girls. Now it is four out of ten. watch frontline – putting children in jail for life

They can be Jekyll and Hyde characters. They have a history of violent, aggressive behaviour and they seem like the most polite, pleasant young people. Chaotic family backgrounds have left some of the youngsters unfamiliar with the most basic tasks such as vacuuming and making a bed. Some can’t look after themselves at all. One teenager there couldn’t even make a cup of tea. A 12-year old boy had been brought before the youth courts 65 times. When the time came for him to leave Vinney, he committed another offence, just to get back. While these children can be easy enough to engage in quiet conversation away from their peers, it is what happens when they are disappointed that sets them aside from the young kids hard time   watch  full version young kids, hard time, director’s cut

Rage and an inability to control it is the common personality trait. 98 per cent of offenders at Vinney Green have been expelled from mainstream school. It is as if a vital behavioural development, which usually occurs when children emerge from the toddler stage and start school, is completely missing. So the offenders at Vinney are basically big, adult-sized teenagers who throw temper tantrums with catastrophic results. An uncontrollable temper makes it impossible for them to make friends, except with others like themselves, and it leads to exclusion from school then to hanging out on the streets. Anger Therapy sessions are held weekly at Vinney Green. Suggestions include taking deep breaths, standing back and thinking problems through. Another 12-year-old boy recounted, with obvious enjoyment, a situation where he had separated two boys fighting and then been bitten on the arm. ‘I bounced his head off the f***ing wall,‘ he boasted to a reporter. In a later interview the boy demonstrated how quickly his mood could turn. ‘Who the f*** do you think you are?’ he shouted, stood up, ripped off his microphone and kicked the walls. watch sentencing 13 and 14-year-old children to die in prison

Jess, a small, slight, very pretty girl with huge brown eyes and a mane of straight black hair is 14 is another offender at Vinney Green. She has made such good progress that she will soon move on. Her criminal record dates back to when she was 12 and attacked a shopkeeper who accused her of theft. ‘The shopkeeper grabbed me by my shoulders and threw me out. I started booting the door, the shopkeeper locked it, but I was shouting “I’m gonna get in”. And it ended with me sticking my leg through the window. I cut up all my leg, but I was still going mad.’ Jess eventually committed arson and assault, and began attacking adults trying to help her – including a foster mother, who she punched in the face. She described how at Vinney Green she learned to recognise the triggers to her anger and discovered how to back off. ‘In here,’ she added proudly, ‘the staff care about you and they are really good. They haven’t had to restrain me once.’ watch colt lundy 15 in prison

It seems on the surface that children and youth being intermittently or permanently imprisoned is harsh and unforgiving, and it is but necessarily so. Sometimes children of crime are portrayed as monsters such as the profiling of James Bulger’s murderers, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. Other times, horrific childhoods where children are bounced between foster homes and subjected to ongoing physical and sexual abuse, is also included in the news report. Either way, keeping a firm hold on this minority population is essential and on occasion, allowing early release, or the escape of a juvenile offender, ends in further disaster. Benny King, 16, was a youth offender in 1975 Oregon, pending a trial for a local rape and robbery. He fled the state to avoid the charges and seemingly disappeared. In 1998 his remains were found, and in 2003 cold case investigators discovered that an offender in Benny’s “inner circle” murdered him with a hunting rifle, after hearing Benny brag about the rape. Truly for children of crime there is no fairy tale ending. read Cowboys on the Case

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2 Responses to Britain’s Children’s Prisons Concealing the Youngest Beasts Within

  1. says:

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    • gothrules says:

      Hope you enjoyed the blog and the coffee. Reading about killer and ingesting caffeine is a great way to start the day.

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