Last week PRI welcomed a delegation of judicial and prison staff from Turkey to its London office, facilitated by Marianne Moore of the Justice Studio and UNICEF Turkey.
The main purpose of the visit was to learn more about good practice in juvenile justice, looking particularly at sentencing policies for young offenders, diversion and non-custodial options and treatment and reintegration initiatives where detention is used.
The delegation heard from Juliet Lyon, PRI’s Secretary General and Director of the Prison Reform Trust on the very successful ‘Out of Trouble’ programme which contributed to a reduction of the prison population of children in England and Wales from 3,010 in September 2007 to 1,643 in August 2012.
Baillie Aaron, Executive Director of Spark Inside, also met with the group to discuss a new and innovative life coaching programme for young people coming out of custody. As part of the programme, professional life coaches meet with young people from two institutions in the London area weekly for up to a year, both in custody and, post-release. By working closely with the prison service and community partners, Spark Inside is addressing some of the main gaps in the youth rehabilitation field: long-term, individualised programming that extends from prison to the community. This pilot project has been adapted from a proven model: PACT, where a Canadian non-profit organisation provides life coaching to prolific teenage offenders at the greatest risk of reoffending.
PRI also briefed the delegation on our global Justice for Children programme, including PRI’s 10-Point Plan for Fair and Effective Justice for Children, our 8-country research project looking at ways to reduce violence against children in during arrest and in custody, successful advocacy efforts to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Jordan and Egypt, and diversion projects carried out in Georgia and Armenia.
In their response the Head of the Turkish delegation thanked PRI for hosting the group and for sharing valuable information and insights, and invited PRI to visit Turkey to assess the conditions for children in conflict and in contact with the law.