In the Care of the State? Provides the first detailed analysis of child deaths in penal custody. Thoroughly researched and extensively referenced, the book: 

  • Explains the background, the principle objectives and the primary research methods that underpin it.
  • Traces the key shifts in contemporary youth justice law and policy that have produced substantial penal expansion and considers the consequences of such developments for child prisoners.
  • Examines in detail child deaths in penal custody alongside a critical analysis of the responses to such deaths by key state agencies.
  • Analyses the post-death investigation and inquest processes activated when a child dies in penal custody.
  • Presents key conclusions and recommendations that, taken together, make a case for: the abolition of prison custody for children; a comprehensive review of child deaths in penal custody; the creation of an independent Standing Commission on Custodial Deaths and a full public inquiry into the death of 16-year-old Joseph Scholes, who died in an English prison in 2002.

In the Care of the State? is essential reading for academics, researchers, students, policy makers, penal reformers, youth justice agencies, child welfare professionals, children’s human rights specialists, legal professionals and all others with an interest in the controversial subject of child imprisonment.

Paperback 134 pages ISBN 0 9468 5819 5

“This is a splendid book… and I entirely endorse the recommendations made” Lord David Ramsbotham, former Chief Inspector of Prisons

“This is not a comfortable read but an important one for all youth panel members and others taking decisions about offending children.” Magistrate magazine, May 2006

“It benefits from collaboration between an academic and a practitioner with the result that it is accessible to a range of audiences without compromising on depth of analysis… it is the detailed analysis…that is particularly compelling, especially the case studies that serve to illustrate both the individual circumstances of the young people who, in most cases, took their lives whiles in custody….This is an interesting, thought provoking book that addresses an important and hitherto little explored issue.” Professor Gill McIvor, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling in Youth Justice Vol. 6, No 3 2006

“…the humanity and compassion borne through attempts to understand and even feel children’s experiences of life and death in custody are the key strengths of this work.” Bree Carlton,
Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Melbourne in Current Issues In Criminal Justice Volume 20 Number 1, July 2008

About the authors

  • Barry Goldson is Professor of Sociolology at the University of Liverpool
  • Deborah Coles is Co-Director of INQUEST

Hard copies are also available on request, contact us here.