Writing in thejournal.ie, IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone examines the current children detention school system in Ireland, noting that young people have the highest rates of reoffending, but they also have the greatest capacity for change. Positive interventions with this age group must be supported to reduce reoffending, and consequently the number of victims, in the future:
"With the expected transfer of 17-year-olds from St Patrick’s and Wheatfield to Oberstown, it is imperative that the ethos at the children detention school campus remains resolutely focused on the provision of adequate expert therapeutic care, education and welfare, and staffed by sufficient numbers of highly trained and dedicated staff, fully conversant with the necessary skills as well as knowledge of legislation, regulations, policies, procedures and protocols. It is crucial that the adult prison ethos and regime does not transfer with the 17-year-olds to Oberstown."
"Children in the detention school system will often have had an experience of the care system, with many under HSE care at the time of their committal, and some coming directly into the detention system from secure care. This group is among the most vulnerable group of children in Ireland; many of the traumatic factors which led to the children being taken into care in the first place are also at root of their offending behaviour. The children detention schools system invests its resources into addressing these challenges, and what can be extremely challenging behaviour of these young people.
"Therefore, we have a duty to support these young people leaving detention in their efforts to desist from offending behaviour, through the provision of aftercare, safe housing and support, and to ensure they do not return to the very chaotic conditions which gave rise to offending behaviour in the first place. It could change their lives, and in turn lead to safer communities for everyone."
Read the article in full here.