According to a group of “experts” (its always “experts,” though anybody can see the glaring obvious.) the “youth custody service” is in crisis and facing meltdown, there are no more places. Young inmates are being held at units hundreds of miles from their homes, making it extremely difficult to stay in touch with their families. These conditions of overcrowding and isolation from families invariably leads to more young people being brutalised and more young people committing suicide. Why do we do this to our kids? No young person deserves this kind of treatment, is there no alternative?
When we talk about the “youth custody service” we are talking about criminalizing and brutalising working class youth, – young working class people in overcrowded prisons. The overcrowding in the “youth custody service” mirrors the overcrowding in adult prisons, prisoners are being held in police stations as the prisons can’t cope, meanwhile, the UK state is considering the use of prison ships and building SUPER prisons. In this system if its not working, then more of the same, only more brutal is their only answer. As far as the powers that be are concerned, it would seem we are a nation of criminals.
Are we to believe the prison system is bursting at the seams because our kids are worse and we as a population are more criminal and anti-social than other European countries? Or could it be that the system we live under is more unjust and socially divided because of poverty, lack of opportunities and amenities, more authoritarian and eager to exert control over the population and by doing so criminalizes and incarcerates ever increasing numbers of the population?
We can’t get rid of the injustice, the poverty, the lack of amenities nor the lack of opportunities without changing the system from one of profit to one of social needs, though that should be our aim. We can however do something immediately about the criminalizing of our kids. We can open up a dialogue between the youth in our area and the adults, discuss with each other what we want and what are our problems and how we can help each other to sort things out to everybody’s advantage and get away from this split in our communities of what looks like marauding packs of youth and disgruntled adults the two rarely speaking to each other. In so doing we would short-circuit the police activity and stop this brutalising and criminalizing of our kids. It would also give us more control over our own environment and help us to shape the community we live in. However, not until we get rid of this system driven by profit and based on the greed of the few pampered parasites, will we be able to create a society based on social justice, the needs of all in our communities, peace, co-operation and sustainability.