Young offenders are detained in "modern-day dungeons" where they suffer injuries from forced physical restraint, strip searches and are denied access to showers and toilets, a damning report on the state of child jails says today. The report by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which examined the findings of inspections of 15 jails holding children, found "dire conditions" across the system. At the privately run Ashfield jail in Gloucestershire, near Bristol, which holds male youths aged , prison inspectors found that inmates were denied toilet breaks during journeys to and from the jail and some boys said they were forced to urinate in a plastic bag. There was also an unacceptable use of strip searching, with inmates routinely stripped on arrival at the jail and every two months after that. It could be a four-hour or longer journey to London and the staff in the vans are not trained to deal with children. So they arrive at court or back at Ashfield in a very distressed state.
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The literature of the prison cell has a long and distinguished pedigree. John Bunyan wrote the first draft of The Pilgrim's Progress while serving nine years in Bedford jail for preaching without a licence. The Marquis de Sade's rather less uplifting works were almost all composed with his legs in irons. Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy and the dissident poet Breyten Breytenbach's dispatches from his South African gulag are testimonies of human resilience in the face of injustice, violence, ennui and despair. The book's publication — and the fact that Archer identifies other prisoners by name in its pages — has caused an immediate uproar. Eyebrows are also being raised at the revelation that he smuggled the pencilled pages of his manuscript out of the prison inside replies to letters from well-wishers.
Young offenders are being held in 'dungeons', says child jail report
Over the weekend, Carolyne Willow revealed that when it comes to the treatment of child prisoners in the United Kingdom, Charles Dickens is alive and well. Willow looked at admittedly incomplete records for 21 months leading up to December The children are anything but secure … in the homes and in the prisons. In the past 21 months, child prisoners suffered 43, strip-searches.
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