Certain Groups of Prisoners Are Classed as “Vulnerable”; Critically Evaluate the Measures Taken to Protect Them During Their Sentence

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Certain groups of prisoners are classed as “vulnerable”; critically evaluate the measures taken to protect them during their sentence. Vulnerable prisoners come in several different forms but this essay will concentrate on women and young offenders although mentally ill offenders will also be mentioned. Incarceration can be a particularly harsh environment that many have argued is completely unsuitable and does not rehabilitate offenders in these categories. They do however provide substantial challenges for the prison service and private security companies that manage prisoners. Firstly I intend to outline the present situation regarding these prisoners and what makes them vulnerable before attending to current practices and their success or otherwise. In England and Wales approximately 5% of convicted prisoners are female which is close to the European average. According to the Fawcett Society (2008), half of them have been victims of domestic violence and one third have been subject to sexual abuse. 70% suffer from two or more mental health disorders and 16% regularly self harm compared to 3% of imprisoned males. Frighteningly 37% had attempted suicide at some point. One of the most significant stressors for incarcerated women is separation from their family and it has been estimated that every year over 17,000 children are separated from their mothers due to imprisonment with only ¼ of those cared for by the father, spouse or carer. The statistics regarding children in custody are unsettlingly similar. Glover and Hibbert (2008) completed a report on behalf of Barnados and found that one half of children in custody had experienced some kind of abuse, 22% had been living in care, 16% had special educational needs and 8% had already attempted to commit suicide at some point. Clearly both women and young people are more vulnerable than the average prisoner. One would expect therefore their treatment to differ from mainstream imprisonment. However, particularly...
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