“The government’s new report on race has attracted fierce debate and we feel a piece of work of such significance required us to pause, step back and reflect.
The Sewell report’s recognition that adverse childhood experiences, deprivation and trauma are very often significant and long-lasting experiences in the lives of young people who are imprisoned, is welcome. Likewise, we welcome the report’s acknowledgement of the agency young people often display in overcoming the reality of social and economic disadvantage. However, acknowledging this agency, does not remove the necessity of action to address the systemic factors that lead to the overrepresentation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in prisons.
It is unfortunate that a report of more than two-hundred and fifty pages has so little to say directly about this overrepresentation in prisons. It is also disappointing that the authors of the report elect to move away from the widely accepted definition of institutional racism, ignoring the Macpherson report’s statement of the role ‘…unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness…’ play in racial discrimination.
Spark Inside affirms that structural inequalities and racial discrimination are real and powerful forces that drive racial disproportionality in prisons. Furthermore, the young people we work with in prisons and YOIs tell us that they want services that are tailored to their specific experiences of this; we believe culturally competent rehabilitative interventions are more critical than ever following the publication of the Sewell report.”
You can read more about our work to address the specific experiences of young Black men in prison here.