The regimes in young offenders’ institutions are to be overhauled in an attempt to prevent teenagers drifting into a life of crime as adults after they are freed.
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, delivered a scathing verdict on the “travesty” of the youth justice system and promised to reform it to put improving skills and education at its heart.
He said about 1,800 under-18s are locked in England and Wales up every year at the cost to the taxpayer of £245m.
Mr Grayling said: “That’s about £100,000 per place, but in some cases up to £200,000 – five times the cost of sending them to Eton.
“Seventy per cent of them reoffend and come back all over again. I’d call it a travesty...Of course we need to detain them but we also need to educate them. ”
Mr Grayling said that adult inmates serving sentences of less than one year would have to accept a rehabilitation course after their release as a condition of being freed – a move that will affect tens of thousands of offenders a year.
Currently only criminals jailed for more than a year have to agree to rehabilitation.He also hinted that prisoners could be banned from watching premium-rate television channels in their cells. He said jails were not meant to be “full of perks and undeserved privileges” and he would “make changes where we need to.”