Boys to men: growing up and doing time in an English young offender institution

Gooch, Kate Elizabeth (2013). Boys to men: growing up and doing time in an English young offender institution. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Child imprisonment has a long history, one that predates the formal creation of juvenile justice. However, the continued use of prison establishments for children, known as young offender institutions (YOIs), remains a controversial issue. This thesis seeks to advance the debate regarding the abolition of child imprisonment by drawing on empirical research conducted in an English YOI accommodating teenage boys. In so doing, the thesis contributes to the established prison ethnographic literature by developing an understanding of the attitudes and lived experiences of child prisoners, a typically overlooked dimension of prison ethnography.

The thesis critically analyses three key themes that emerged from the empirical research: surviving life inside; interpersonal victimisation; and, the nature of the staff-prisoner relationships and the use of power. It is argued that imprisonment is far from a neutral experience. The stark similarities between the lived experience of adult and child prisoners illustrate the futility of attempting to create a distinct secure estate for children whilst retaining the use of YOIs. The differences that do exist only serve to demonstrate the inappropriateness of detaining children in the prison environment. The recent fall in the youth custody population presents an opportunity to finally abolish child prisons.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Birmingham Law School
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
K Law > K Law (General)
K Law > KD England and Wales


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