Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ASBOs = children in jail

Since 1999, the British government has embarked on an unprecedented criminalisation of youth, issuing Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) backed by jail sentences in an effort to cut down on "anti-social behaviour" such as wearing only one glove, playing football, feeding the poor, being poor, or suffering from Asperger's or Tourette's syndrome (there's a fairly horrifying list from Napo, the UK trade union for family court and probation staff, here). The victims of these orders are almost always young, and frequently mentally ill; the conditions they impose frequently cannot be complied with. The result, inevitably, is jail. According to today's Independent, after eight years and more than 12,000 orders, more than 1,000 children have been jailed for breaching ASBOs:

Penal reformers and children's groups warned last night that the heavy-handed use of Asbos against youngsters risked turning them into criminals in adult life. And new figures showed that 986 children aged 10 to 17 were jailed for breaking Asbos between 2000, when they were launched, and the end of 2006. Another 300 to 400 youngsters are thought to have joined the total in 2007 and 2008.
Half of those jailed serve more than four months, and the mean is 6.4 months - compared with the 4.9 months for adults (pedophobia in action!). And remember, all of this is without any semblance of a fair trial, and for doing things that are frequently entirely legal.

And people want to bring this insanity here?