Young adult offenders
A young offender is someone who is aged between 18 and 20.
Prison life for a young offender held in a Young Offender Institution (or YOI) isn't that different to prison life for adult prisoners; however there are some differences in the way YOIs are run.
As with adult prisoners, an induction session is organised for the first few days after a young offender arrives at prison. This is an opportunity to talk through any concerns and issues as well as discussing opportunities for education and training during their sentence.
A 'sentence plan' using the Offender Assessment System (OASys) is developed for all young offenders who have at least four weeks to serve. Not only does this help young offenders make the most of their time in custody, it also helps them plan for when they are released. The aim is to prepare young offenders as much as possible so that they can continue a law-abiding life after their release.
All YOIs have personal officer schemes. These officers are trained to help with any questions or problems and will play an important part in developing and refining a prisoner's sentence plan.
Activities in the Young Offender Institution
Every YOI offers education classes as well as practical training courses that will improve skills and improve their chances of finding a job once they have been released. Pre-release courses, led by Prison Officers and contributed to by specialists from outside the prison, help young offenders tackle the issues that might face them when they leave such as accommodation, benefits, drugs and family.
Some YOIs provide opportunities for young offenders to take part in Community Service Volunteers programmes. This might involve working with children with a disability or the elderly. Not only does this make a positive contribution to society, it also can provide invaluable work experience.
Recreation and interaction with other young offenders is encouraged and most YOIs provide at least one hour per day. At the weekends there are more opportunities for activities such as voluntary work, sports and leisure activities such as arts and crafts.