If you are living in a young offender institution, you can be punished for offences against discipline. This doesn’t mean staff have the right to bully or mistreat you. You should be treated with respect and fairness at all times.
Before we look at how you might be punished if you commit any prison offences, here is the list of things the law says you must not do, try or encourage others to do in a young offender institution:
- Assault someone.
- Assault someone using racism.
- Make someone stay in a place against their will.
- Stop someone who works in your prison from entering an area (this would include your cell).
- Fight with anyone.
- Intentionally put anyone’s health or safety in danger.
- Intentionally stop an officer, or anyone else working in your prison, from doing his/her job.
- Escape or run away.
- Take illegal drugs.
- Be drunk as a result of knowingly drinking alcohol.
- Have an unauthorised item.
- Sell or give another young person an unauthorised item.
- Take another young person’s property.
- Intentionally or without care set fire to any part of the prison.
- Destroy or damage any part of the prison or any property belonging to someone else.
- Destroy or damage the prison or someone else’s property through racism (racist graffiti, for example).
- Fail to be in a place you are meant to be.
- Be in a place you haven’t got permission to be in.
- Be disrespectful to an officer or any other person working at the prison, or anyone visiting the prison.
- Use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.
- Use threatening, abusive or insulting racist words or behaviour.
- Intentionally fail to work properly.
- Refuse to work.
- Disobey any lawful order.
- Fail to follow any rule.
- Get illegal drugs from one of your visitors.
- Get anything else from one of your visitors without permission from the prison.
- Draw or put on the wall any racist drawings or put on display any things that are racist.
The law allows governors to punish children and young people in prison, if they have been found to commit any of the above offences.
The prison holds what’s called an adjudication hearing to find out if a child or young person has committed any of the offences above. The test for deciding if you have committed an offence is the same as in criminal courts – beyond reasonable doubt.
You can get help from an independent advocate to make sure you are properly listened to in an adjudication hearing. This is a very important right which we hope you will use.
If a judge from outside the prison is involved in your hearing, you have the right to have a lawyer. Your lawyer will speak with you before the hearing. He or she will work for you at the hearing. We strongly advise you to use this important right.
If a child or young person is found to have committed any of the above offences, he may be punished in one or more of the following ways (we say ‘he’ because girls are not locked up in young offender institutions):
- He may be given a warning.
- He may lose his privileges (like a television or time out of cell) for up to 21 days.
- He may be stopped from doing activities for up to 21 days (though he cannot be stopped from education or training courses or work or physical education as a punishment).
- He may be given extra work to do for up to 21 days, though this cannot be more than 2 hours a day.
- He may get money taken away or stopped for up to 42 days (the maximum amount cannot be more than 21 days’ pay).
- He may be moved from his wing or living unit for up to 21 days.
- He may have to stay longer in prison (up to 42 days longer).
If you are ever given a warning (called a caution) for an offence in prison, you cannot be given any other punishment for this same offence.
You have the right to question any punishment that might be against the law or unfair. If you are in any doubt, please contact an advocate or the Howard League for Penal Reform Legal Advice Line.
If you are in a secure training centre, the law says there must be a system of rewards, encouragements and punishments which are suitable for the “ages, characters and circumstances” of children and young people living in the centre.
When you first arrive in the secure training centre, you should be told what kind of behaviour is acceptable and what kind of behaviour is unacceptable. You should also be told about the rewards and punishments in your centre, and when these are used. All of this information should be written down in a way that children and young people can understand.
Throughout your time at the centre, you should be reminded about behaviour which is acceptable and unacceptable, and rewards and punishments. This should be done in a pleasant, respectful way. Staff do not have the right to bully you.
The centre must keep records of any rewards, encouragements and punishments given to children and young people.