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Driven to suicide in 'Dickensian' jail

Issue No. 1710

Driven to suicide in 'Dickensian' jail

PHILLIP GRIFFIN was just 17 when he died. He was the latest young person to take his own life while locked up in the hell of Britain's young offenders' institutions. Conditions are so bad that last week the governor of Feltham Young Offenders' Institution, Ian Thomas, resigned in protest.

Thomas talked of children being "warehoused" in "Dickensian" conditions, saying, "It doesn't take a genius to work out the possible tragic consequences of such an approach." Phillip Griffin was one of those "tragic consequences". He had been thrown out by his family and while homeless was arrested for trying to burgle a house.

Instead of getting the help he needed he was thrown into prison for a ten-month sentence. Eight young people have now killed themselves in jail in the last year. Yet New Labour home secretary Jack Straw and his Tory counterpart Ann Widdecombe continue to outbid each other to lock up more and more.

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Sat 19 Aug 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1710
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