Prisons 'turn juveniles into brutal bullies'

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The Independent Online
JUVENILES should not be sent to prison because they will become either 'brutalised bullies' or inflict injury upon themselves, according to a report to be published today, writes Terry Kirby.

Young and in Trouble, a report by the Howard League for Penal Reform, says the number of known juvenile offenders has dropped over the past decade because successful alternatives to prison have prevented reoffending.

It amounts to a firm rejection of the plans announced last week by Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, for a series of secure training centres, which have been widely criticised as expensive and likely to encourage reoffending.

Today the Government's plans are expected to come under renewed attack when representatives of the league and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders give evidence to the Commons home affairs select committee's inquiry into juvenile crime.

Home Office figures show that the number of known offenders aged 14 to 17 has dropped from 175,700 in 1980 to 110,800 in 1990.