Beyond Youth Custody

Excited and scared at the same time

Young Advisor
U R Boss project

What are some of the feelings young people experience in the lead up to release?

Excited and scared at the same time, excited because of the reality of getting out of prison and leaving the box that felt like you’ve been holed up in for however long your sentence is. More scared because you don’t know what to expect, you ask yourself 101 questions:

Will somebody be picking me up?, What am I going to do?, How am I going to move on in life?, Where will I be staying? etc… these questions will go over and over a person’s head with sleepless nights filled of excitement and tension of getting out of prison.

Money issues can be a major problem because most people won’t know how they will survive with no money.

Not knowing how people will react to a person when being released from prison can sometimes be daunting to people

What are some of the challenges young people face during the first two weeks of release?

Trying to find what they are going to do, most young people can easily get back into the same scenarios that may have caused them to go prison in the first place because of the lack of things young people can do nowadays. Money is again a big issue due to the lack of it in the first two weeks and young people not being able to get jobs can cause people to  result back to crime and get recalled. A big challenge is trying to stay out of prison and it feels a lot easier to go in for anything now due to license. Settling back into normal life is a big challenge from being use to having more people around you and more public places can be hard to come to terms with.

Are there any particular examples of stories you’d like to share?

When I came out of prison I still remember the first proper chip I had after eating prison chips for a year which were either too soft or like rocks. I remember coming out and my friends took me to eat I had a couple of chips and was not able to eat further because I just couldn’t digest the food. I filled up really quick and all I could think about was being out of prison and being normal again. Just staring around and silently taking it all in at once, I guess its just overwhelming on the first day.

In your opinion, what are the most important things young people need immediately after leaving custody?

I think support from a trusted and person to the young person really helps, I was lucky I had family but a lot of young people don’t. If someone from their life is there for them every step of the way it would help greatly for the person and give them a reason to stay out. Because if the young person went back to prison they would feel like they are letting this person down who believes in them and is able to show it. A suitable accommodation is very helpful rather than putting young people at available hostels, bearing in mind their situation and the people who support them, how far will the young person be from them?

If there was one thing you could change about the system to improve the transitional experience for young people, what would it be?

Make it easier for young people, provide more ROTL and gear them up for what to expect when being released. We can easily just let a person out and forget about them till they come back to prison this should not be the case. The system should be supporting all individuals who go through different experiences in their lives. I do feel giving the equivalent of JSA when being released is more realistic then discharge grant as its more to live on for the time being until you are paid by the job centre. Also I would like young people being released with something to keep them occupied given by the system who help them focus their energy whether this be voluntary, paid or community work. It would be very beneficial.

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Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes