Young peoples experiences of custody Professor Neal Hazel Director, Centre for Social Research (CSR.Salford) Helsinki Foundation conference on children deprived of liberty in Central and Eastern Europe Budapest, 4-5 December 2014 Twitter: @NealHazel The study Young offenders perceptions of their experiences in the criminal justice system Completed at the Policy Research Bureau (2001-2002)
Research team: Neal Hazel, Ann Hagell and Laura Brazier ESRC Award R000223427 + Drawing from a number of subsequent research projects, including: National assessment of the main youth custodial sentence in E&W Evaluations of resettlement projects
Comparison of custodial regimes Beyond Youth Custody www.beyondyouthcustody.net Sample 5 Youth Offending Teams in SE England (Urban>Rural) 37 young people, purposively chosen: Roughly relate to offending population A cross-section of perspectives Enough females, minority ethnic offenders, and serious offenders
Ages 13-17 yrs Sex 30 males, 7 females Ethnicity 23 White, 9 Black, 3 Asian British, 2 Other Disposal 6 DTOs (+3 previous), 2 Final Warning (+6 previous), rest community
What previous research told us Police custody Negative perceptions if previous contact with police (Lyon et al 2000; Griffiths & Winfree 1982) Frustration at police closed to communication & understanding, wrongly charging (Tisseyre 1976; Jamieson et al 1999) Allegations of mistreatment (Jamieson et al 1999; Smith 1976; The Princes Trust 2001; Rogowski 2000; Lyon et al 2000) Afraid and bewildered at station (Smith 1976) Upset in police cells, crying every night, boredom (Leitch 1999)
Institutional custody Discrimination (Edwards 2001; Lyon et al 2000; Rogowski 2000) Importance of positive staff-inmate relations (Paterson-Badali et al 2002; Biggam & Power 1997; Loucks et al 2000; Leitch, 1999 ) Negative peer relations - bullying Emotional difficulties (Loucks et al 2000) Reality not as bad as anticipation (Pancer and Bigwood 1993) Police: At station Confusion over rights delay in solicitor etc
Anxiety about future, and regret Anxiety about parents Q: What were you worried about? What my parents were going to think, what they were gonna do. (14 yr old male offender) Parental chastisement She had a go at me. She said, she said to me that she was going to let me stay there longer, overnight but they said they couldnt do it cos they didnt have enough room I was just hoping dad wasnt going to turn up, cos he would have battered me as soon as I got outside. (16 yr old male)
Police: In cells Shock, and unfamiliarity it was like a shock hit me first time you see a cell. Its like youre thinking Oh, no Its not a familiar place, is it. (18 yr old female) -----------------.. I dont know, the whole being in the cell thing makes you feel like an animal, you know, locked away in the cell. (16 yr old female) Police: In cells Lengthy and isolated time in cells (big theme) - bored they always seem to manage to find an excuse to keep me in the cell longer. Its always oh we've got to do this first, we've gotta do that and they use words that.. you dont understand (16 yr old female) Perceived as deliberately trying to break person or summary punishment I was the last person to be out of there. Just because of my attitude, the way Id
been. Cos they have the power to make those little things that make your life a hell of a lot harder to be honest. Its part of their everyday routine but they can make your, they can make your life hell. (17 yr old male) Frustration at the injustice and not being able to react I start going a bit loopy. And thats how people do because if you're in a small space, nobody likes being in that small space, feeling like a criminal, a loser, a waster, you feel like you're nothing, you know, everybodys been looking down at ya.. you feel like crap (16 yr old female) Police: In cells Frustration at being ignored (or neglected) And when you ring the buzzer they never come. Never ever. Not even if you just ring it once and then dont ring it again. Cos most people just carry on ringing it. They never come anyway. (16 yr old male)
Police: In cells Unnecessary victimisation: including verbal aggression, invasion of privacy, humiliation youve got some.. ignorant arsehole that turns your buzzer off and sometimes you get em like, they pull down the hatch and just grin alright in here and it, its the way they say it as well, you know, its so.. I dont really care if you are or youre not, you know what I mean, slam it back up and what's the thing with the slamming, why couldnt you just place it up. Just little things like that (16 yr old female offender) Lack of food and drink (and quality when get some) I was thirsty and they never give me no water until later onvery thirsty. I was swearing as well, (14 yr old male) --------------------- the first time I went in I had them on all night.. and they just annoyed me cos theyd come in and they wouldnt, they wouldnt give me anything to eat, they wouldnt give me a
drink, they kept me in all night. (15 yr old female) Police: In cells Coping strategies E.g., Sleep, sucking thumb, doing press ups, singing in head All you can do is just sit there and think or just do, repeat songs in your head, Heartless Crew, whatever, or start doing press up and sit ups. Otherwise you just give in, you break. And youre just sitting there and you think Oh I cant take this anymore, I wanna go home - and then you go into an interview and squeal. So, you cant do that, youve gotta keep a strong head. (17 yr old male) Hitting buzzer (and challenging) They kept coming along every time I pressed the buzzer and asking me what I wanted, and Id go Erm ... oh, Ive forgotten now. And then Id wait for the buzzer to go (...) front desk and press it again. 18 yr old female ---------------------
I thought well they're being a bit not right to me today so I'm gonna get em back, so rung the buzzer 16 yr old female Police: Interviews Verbally intimidating Rapid and confusing questions They try and make you say things that you dont want to say, or they try twisting things so that I dont know (15 yr old male) ----------------------- It was scary. I couldnt really say what happened cos I was that scared and worried. And they kept changing it, forcing me to say whatever, to say what they think Cos I was saying something and then they were just putting words into my mouth. (15 yr old male) --------They try and put pressure on you and ask you weird questions. (15 yr old male) Police: Interviews
Verbally intimidating Threats of custody I can see it now that he was obviously scaring me into sort of saying they were sort of saying that If you dont say sort of where youve got it from and stuff like that then youre looking at spending a very long time in prison. Which I dont know, maybe its one of their methods, or techniques or something. (18 yr old male) Aggression He started going to me Youre a coward, youre a coward, just admit you did it and all this stuff and he wound me up cos he was just in my face saying Youre a coward blah blah blah, insulting me so. (17 yr old male) Police: Interviews Physically intimidating They make you feel uncomfortable it is all about their approach, the way they approach you, the way they talk to you, the way they look at you and.. all their body language and things like thatI'm the king of the castle and you're notits the way they're so
dominant.. in their approach to you (16 yr old female) Pressure from parents I get really uncomfortable when my dads there, cos in a police station is not a good place to see your daughter in. (16 yr old female) ------------------ My dad started going mad at me, saying Why is this, why is that? Just tell him who it was and all this stuff, Was it you? blah blah blah. (17 yr old male) Sense of losing control over what they were saying Police: Interviews Reaction to police behaviour
if they speak to me rude, I just speak to them rude back. And if they speak to me kindly, I speak to em kindly back. So no shouting.. I was just, talking back to her and telling her the truth and she was a nice police lady (17yr old male) Heavy reliance on solicitor (when there) Institutions: Distress Spoils lives before I went in I was clever at schooldoing well, everything going fine.. one little slip up, my whole lifes collapsed. (18yr old male) Anxiety emphasised at start Separation from familiar, confusion, uncertainty Uncomfortable and intrusive procedures, but staff tried to calm distress .I was in shockI didnt eat for four days. I didnt eat for days (17yr old female)
They are alright with you. They talk to me, like they want me to cheer up and that (16yr old female) Institutions: Relationships Positive staff-inmate relations with some exceptions Own behaviour responsive to how treated Peer relations camaraderie and intimidation (gender split) Youve gotta stay outa trouble, stay outa fights. And staying outa fights is just near enough impossible. (18 yr old male) I got with a girl called Holly, she was sixteen, and me and her got on very close. And then she got put in a cell with me. And we liked it, got on all the time. (16yr old female) Importance of family - visits time of excitement and stress it worries me a lot, obviously, what my mum thinks, and the more worry my mum has, the wore worried I am (18 year old male)
Trauma effects on release Physical stress symptoms When my mum came and picked me up from the prison, when I came out and I was sitting in the car, I felt sick. I was shaking cos I didnt know what to do and that. Ella, 17 Trauma effects on release Overwhelmed psychological anxiety I couldnt handle it, like the first day I couldnt handle being out
of prison. I just couldnt stop crying and felt depressed all the time. Sasha, 17 I was really scared when I am out. I was all scared cos I thought everyone was looking at me. I felt scared. I walked around town, and I thought everyone was just ataring at me, but they werent it was just me. Peter, 17 Trauma effects on release Quiet and withdrawn I came out and it was weird. I could hardly talk for about a week Ben, 17 He was very withdrawn when he first came out. He didnt want
to go anywhere or anything. He was very withdrawn. He is back [to himself] now. Yes, he is speaking now and he does go out with his friends. Grandparent Trauma effects on release Agoraphobic symptoms Just indoors with all my family and friends, I didnt go out Sasha, 17 I just werent ready to go out. I felt weird Ella, 17 (did not leave the house for 10 days) What was stressful about the release?
Disorientated and scared Lost, I think I was. I didnt know where I was going to go or what. I just came out of there. It was like my life had just stopped and swung back round and kicked me. Martin, 16 I came out and I was scared. I didnt know what to do, I didnt know where to go. I kept sitting down. I was like seeing cars going past and I was like, Cant believe Im out Jenny, 16 What was stressful about the release? Learning to interact again especially with family and friends
I didnt know what to say to mum and dad when I came out. And I didnt know what to say to my friends. I like never talked to hardly anyone. I just kept myself to myself. Peter, 17 What was stressful about the release? Lack of regulation like eating and sleeping patterns Just my sleeping pattern. [In custody], I wake up in the morning and make the bed and then eat my breakfast for a certain time. But its just getting back into a sleeping pattern, waking up at 2.30 in the afternoon again. Sean, 16
Unable to cope with taking initiative or act independently What was stressful about the release? Pressure of being focus of attention when interactions are stressful Negative support again Cos everything was going too fast. Like people, all my family were coming over, get all this birthday stuff and....I dunno, like every time I see someone, it was like Oh how was prison? How was this, how was that? and yeah, it was just the same thing over and over. Sasha, 17
Conclusions: Recurring themes Police pressure and abuse of power (and some supportive ones) Resistance and challenge, but recognition of authorities ultimate power .If they talk to you with a bad attitude it makes me wanna like talk back to em like that. But then I just thought no whats the point because theyve got so much power over what I have and its not worth it. Because theyll just keep you in there longer and then theyll try thinking of other things to arrest you for. Thats just the police all over for youthey think theyve got so much power (15 yr old male) --------------------------- There's nothing you can do. You cant beat the police or anything. (15 yr old male) Conclusions: Recurring themes Confusion over procedures and rights (lack of protection)
Anxiety and coping mechanisms Anxiety flashpoints: cells, interview, sentence start and end Positive and negative support Young offenders are children
Vulnerable to adult-child power relations (not just judicial power) Conclusions: What can we do? Ease stress times Focus on relationships Address bullying again dangerous culture amongst boys
Make the most of positive relations officers, peers Prioritise access to activities they actually want to engage! Preparation for release and release on temporary licence Build on what is constructive, reduce what is destructive
Soreduce use of custody (doh!) Conclusions: Offenders as children There's no privacy [in the police cell]. When I go to sleep I like to suck my thumb and twiddle my belly button and when I'm in the cell I always do it cos its my comfort. And.. the sniggers you get, little sniggery and snidey comments all the time. When As soon as your mum or whoevers with you.. is not around, not in ear sight, thats when they start going on. And because you're a child, if you say mum.. that officer was really rude to me, he called me this, he called me that.. your mums not gonna believe you. [Shell say].. You're just saying that, he's a police officer.. he's not allowed to do that Not allowed? When has that ever stopped em? (15 yr old female) References
Biggam, F. H., & Power, K. G. (1997). Social Support and Psychological Distress in a Group of Incarcerated Young Offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 41(3), 213-230 Edwards, L. (2001). What is the purpose of youth custody? Paper presented to IPPR Seminar: The purpose of custody for children and young people under 18, May 2001 Gill, O. (1974). Residential Treatment for young offenders: The Boys Perspectives. British Journal of Criminology. Vol. 14(4) 318-335. Jamieson, J., McIvor, G., & Murray, C. (1999). Understanding Offending Among Young People. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Stationary Office. Leitch, H. (eds.) (1999). When the key turns: written contributions from young people in secure accommodation. 2nd edition, Exeter: Atkinson Unit. Loucks, N., Power, K., Swanson, V., & Chambers, J. (2000). Young People in Custody in Scotland. The characteristics and perceptions of young people held in custody. Scottish Prison Service: Occasional Paper Series No. 3. Lyon, J., Dennison, C., & Wilson, A. (2000). Tell Them So They Listen: Messages from Young People in Custody. London: Home Office. Pancer, M. & Bidgood, B. (1993). An Evaluation of Residential Programs for Young Offenders in the Waterloo Region:: Executive Summary.: Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University.
Peterson-Badali, M., & Koegl, C. J. (2002). Juveniles Experiences of Incarceration: The Role of Correctional Staff in Peer Violence. Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 30, (1), 41-49. Princes Trust (2001). Its Like That. The views and hopes of disadvantaged young people. London: The Princes Trust. Rogowski, S. (2000). Young offenders: their experience of offending and the youth justice system. Youth and Policy, 70, 52-70. Smith, D. (1976). Young People and The Police.: Leicester: The National Youth Bureau. Tisseyre, C. (1976). The image and attitude of young people towards the police. International Child Welfare Review, No. 30-31, 94-105.
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