As a newly published report this month suggests that almost 50 per cent of children in youth offender institutions are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds , one former young lawbreaker has told the Asian Express that ‘children must know the true cost of crime’.
‘Bounty’, as he is known to friends and family, is no stranger to prison.
Despite only being 21-years-old, the Bradford man has been in and out of youth offender institutions and prisons since his early teens, accumulating over 18 months behind bars.
Arrested ‘almost a hundred times’ and appearing in court on several occasions, his young days were notorious to say the least, convicted for robbery, fighting and possession of offensive weapons.
Today he is able to look back on his younger days and see the error of his ways.
Now working in security, Bounty has turned his life around, and has even spoken to ‘at risk’ children about the dangers of a criminal lifestyle.
Explaining more about his own experiences, he said: “It all started in school for me.
“I was a problem child at school, always getting into fights and trouble. I was eventually thrown out and it was then that I began hanging round with bad crowds.
“I was sent to jail for the first time when I was only 13 or 14 for robbery.
“For a year or two after my release I went clean but I couldn’t keep away from these bad people. I ended up going in and out of jail a number of times between 2013 and 2014. In 2015 I was put in jail after six months.
“I look back now and see what a waste of time it all was. You waste your life behind bars and kids today need to understand this.”
In a message to young people today, Bounty says there are no rewards in a life of crime.
“I would just tell people to keep away from the streets, keep away from drugs and get an education,” he said.
“These ‘gang leaders’ are only ever watching their own backs. They might be driving flashy cars or appear to be living a high life but they are not.
“They are only a minute away from their doors being kicked in by police. When that happens, you will not be looked after.”
He added: “Jail’s not a nice place. I wouldn’t let my family come see me when I was in because it would have hurt them more than it hurt me. Children today must understand that it affects more than just them.”
In that latest HM Inspectorate of Prisons report, statistics show that 47 per cent of boys held in youth offender institutions are from a BME background.
This is the highest rate recorded since 2001.