Beyond Youth Custody


The use of ROTL could be expanded further to ensure that inmates get the chance to attend relevant educational or volunteering opportunities and interviews. This example demonstrates the importance of the relationship between inmates and prison staff in making decisions about the suitability of such opportunities.

I started studying and I done my first degree while I was in custody, yeah. Youth justice. I was able to go to…through the Open University. Didn’t matter which jail that I went to. So over the years of me breaking and thing…I’ve always used the resources within the prison, so even though, yeah, I was a prolific offender, I was a prolific offender who took every piece of education that the prison was able to give me.

Once you’re made a D Cat you’re able to go to work. So I was two years into my sentence then, and I decided to apply for ROTL. So my governor sat down and she asked me a load of questions. She was, like, well, looking at your paperwork you’re meant to get a no straight away. But I know you, and I know the achievements that you’ve made and I would like to back you in any way that I can, and I don’t want you to let me down, so I need to hear from you, like, I need to really hear from you what are you seeking and where are you going? And why is it that you want to? Yes, yes, and as harsh as she was, a lot of people didn’t actually like her and I loved her, because I just thought that she was quite real in her evaluation of each prisoner.

I started working and I volunteered. But I didn’t just volunteer. I was the first person within my establishment ever to receive a paid job still inside prison. Someone to receive paid work while being a D Cat. So I started off part time as a project coordinator.

We spoke to the [new] governor and…There’s a rule in the prison that says that if you work they take 40% of your money. The governor, basically, overrode that because of my flat. And I was saying to him listen, Sir, like, my money’s finished, like, Sir, I’m gonna lose my flat. I’ve got, like, a year and something left, and I don’t see why I should keep my flat for, like, nearly three years and then lose it at the last moment. That don’t make no sense. So he was, like, OK. And he approved for me to keep all of my wages. And then from there, I always wanted to be a case worker…I was just about to come out. I had, like, three months or something left, but yeah, I was a D Cat. And I became a fully qualified case worker. I’d proven that I was able to do all of the work and all of the paperwork that comes with it, and also hit targets and exit people…it was really good. I enjoyed it.

Lisa is now a full-time staff member at a project supporting gang-involved young people leaving custody.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes