Children Behind Bars

Why the Abuse of Child Imprisonment Must End

Carolyne Willow

Children Behind Bars

Carolyne Willow

Distributed for Policy Press at the University of Bristol

With a Foreword by Benjamin Zephaniah
256 pages | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2015
Paper $26.95 ISBN: 9781447321538 Published July 2015 For sale in North and South America only
Based on a wide range of research and first-person interviews, this book presents the shocking truth about child prisons and argues passionately for their closing. Carolyne Willow draws on human rights legislation and progress in the care and treatment of vulnerable children elsewhere to outline the harsh realities of penal child custody—hunger, dirty cells, the authorized infliction of severe pain, bullying and intimidation, and much more. Exploring these issues through the lens of protection rather than punishment, this compelling book reaches beyond any one country to address the plight of child prisoners around the globe.
Contents
Introduction
Things were not right at home
They just don't listen
I think it’s quite like rape
I can't breathe
What gives them the right to hit a child in the nose
We should be able to hug our families
Every night I'm starving
Children were given bags to urinate in
The violence is unbelievable
Listen to the kids
They shouldn't be there
Review Quotes
Eric Allison | Guardian (UK)
“Willow’s book, Children Behind Bars, on the abuse of children in custody, draws on her experiences in a long career spent trying to improve the lot of children, first as a social worker and later at the Children’s Rights Alliance. A focus of her book is on the use of restraint on children and on some of the 33 children who have died in custody in the past 25 years. Willow’s anger is evident. . . . A harrowing read.”
Heather M. Thompson, Florida Atlantic University | Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal
“Willow provides a strong empirical foundation for the argument that these placements are not suitable to rehabilitate youths who have made poor decisions. This book highlights the need for reform of juvenile offenders in Britain, but can appeal to an international audience as child imprisonment is not only a British fallacy. The detailed case studies humanize young people who were dehumanized by the prison system, and allow readers to connect with and also make their own conclusions about how change should occur with this governmental practice.”
Jameel Hadi, University of Salford | Conversation
“In her searing and unflinching book, . . . Willow documents how children are humiliated by a culture that tolerates bullying (both from staff and other young people), restraints and strip searching that in some cases contravenes their rights and well-being. . . . As Willow makes clear, for some children a sentence can become a death sentence.”
British Journal of Criminology
"Willow's evocative and troubling book on the imprisonment of children is a damning indictment of the ways in which vulnerable individuals are treated by the criminal justice system."
Phil Milner, Lancaster Child and Families Psychological Services, England | Child Abuse Review
“This is an important and passionately argued book, which should strongly influence policy makers, politicians, and those involved in youth justice to rethink and change the practice of sending children to prison. . . . This book highlights the indignities and subtle abuses that children face whilst in prison, such as strip searching and physical violence, whilst clearly and graphically shining a powerful light on systematic mismanagement, poor practice, and poor policy; and in the cases of some politicians, and youth justice management, cowardice. . . . A work of great empathy . . . This book is an essential read for those interested in or working in the youth offending system.”
Barry Goldson, University of Liverpool
“All of the evidence points to the corrosive, ineffective, and damaging effects of child imprisonment. Willow’s book further strengthens the compelling case for abolition.”
Peter Wanless, chief executive, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
“Robust and shocking, this book is very moving and must provide the platform for reform to better protect the young people whom we lock up and keep out of sight.”
Sir William Utting, former chief inspector of social services for England
“Willow’s carefully researched analysis of child abuse in prison, illustrated by haunting case studies, shames our society. Prisons are not safe places, and children should not be sent there.”
Lord Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons for England and Wales
“Timely evidence that the justice secretary’s proposal to imprison 320 children, in what he euphemistically calls a ‘secure college,’ compounds present abuse.”
Frances Crook, chief executive, Howard League for Penal Reform
“The British obsession with prison has cost the lives of too many children. Willow’s book exposes the raw and terrible truth about state-sanctioned abuse of children in custody. Read her book and then take action to end the use of prison for our children.”
Yvonne Bailey, mother of Joseph Scholes
“Child imprisonment is always abusive. No child should sheep in a cell nor call prison ‘home.’ Children Behind Bars will inform you, sear your heart, and stir your conscience into action.”
Thomas Hammarberg, adviser on human rights to the United Nations and European Union
“Willow exposes cruel, inhuman and degrading realities facing children exiled to prison. This book is recommended to everyone who cares about child protection and human rights.”
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder and director of Kids Company
“This is the book we’ve all been waiting for, assembled by an author who has passion, knowledge, and wisdom.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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