"Prisons are failing to address the distinct needs of young women aged 18-24, including education and mental health needs, in the face of evidence that they should be treated differently to older women in custody. In the youth estate, teenage girls are viewed as having such specific needs that not one girl under 18 is held in a young offender institution, making the transition across to the women’s estate when they turn 18 particularly stark and risky.
Despite some efforts made in individual institutions to meet the needs of this age group, the report finds that prison regimes do not sufficiently follow the Prison Service Order to provide younger women prisoners more supervision and activities. Recent inspection reports of women’s prisons have consistently highlighted a lack of strategy and service for young adults, with not one young women-specific accredited programmes available in the estate. A lack of progress in prison education was highlighted as a particular concern. The report calls for a strengthening of existing guidance and staff recruitment to enable effective, distinct management of young adult women in prison, and the introduction of a presumption against short prison sentences for non-violent crimes."
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