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Groundbreaking documentary ‘Dead Behind Bars’ on deaths of children and young people in prison to be broadcast 9pm Thursday BBC Three
24 April 2014
Jake Hardy, Ryan Clark, and Adam Rushton, are the three young people who died in prison to be featured in a brand new documentary ‘Dead Behind Bars’, made for BBC Three by Lambent Productions. INQUEST has been collaborating with and advising Lambent throughout development and filming.
Jake Hardy and Ryan Clark were both 17 when they died at Young Offender Institutions: Ryan at HMYOI Wetherby in April 2011 and Jake at HMYOI Hindley in January 2012. Adam Rushton was 20 years old when he died at Brinsford Young Offender Institution in October 2009. All three hanged themselves.
INQUEST has been working with the families of Jake Hardy and Ryan Clark since their deaths. Both inquests were heard while filiming for the documentary was ongoing. The jury conclusion at the inquest into the death of Ryan Clark is available here, and the conclusion at the inquest into the death of Jake Hardy is available here. Both juries were highly critical of the boys' treatment inside prison.
The film was inspired by INQUEST’s groundbreaking 2012 report, Fatally Flawed, which examined deaths in prison of children and young people aged 24 and under. Building on this authoritative work, INQUEST worked strategically, in alliance with others, calling for a review into young deaths in prison. In February the government agreed to commission an independent review into the deaths of 18-24 year olds. We are continuing to call for the remit to be broadened to include an examination of the deaths of children such as Ryan and Jake whose stories are so powerfully presented in this film.
Full background to INQUEST's work towards an independent review is available here.
INQUEST assisted Lambent productions in finding families to take part in the film and provided background information, research and statistics.
This film chronicles the lives and deaths of three of the young people who have killed themselves in prison. Their stories are symptomatic of many others; these are individual cases that epitomise a fatally flawed system.
Ryan Clark had a difficult childhood growing up in the care of a foster family, and then in and out of hostels. At 17, he got into trouble with the law and was sent to HMYOI Wetherby on remand in 2011. This was Ryan’s first time in custody and, small for his age, his family think he was extensively bullied. Three weeks after he was locked up, he took his own life, but his family believe it was a cry for help. At the inquest into his death, Ryan’s mother wants to prove that he was bullied and that he didn’t intend to kill himself, and that failures to follow basic safeguarding procedures contributed to his death.
Jake Hardy suffered with mental health problems and learning disabilities throughout his life. He was diagnosed with ADHD and a conduct disorder when he was 12, along with autism. He was sent to a special school, but that finished when he was 16 and the support came to an end too. Jake started getting into trouble and was eventually sent to prison after a fight with his girlfriend. Despite being 6ft 4in he was a “soft lad” and couldn’t cope with life inside. He was routinely, and severely, bullied and would cry during visits from his mum. No action was taken by staff either to address the bullying or to move him, even after he self-harmed. He took his own life in HMYOI Hindley in January 2012.
Adam Rushton was 20 years old when he hanged himself from the bars of his bunk bed in HMYOI Brinsford in 2009. Adam suffered abuse and neglect as a child, before he was adopted aged 7. He started getting into trouble with the police when he was 16 and had various stints in prison. The day that Adam was sentenced to what would be his final time behind bars, a community psychiatric nurse documented that he was at risk of self-harm and suicide. He took his own life just two days later. At the inquest into his death it was revealed that another young man had killed himself in the same way, in the same cell, just weeks before.
‘You have clearly made yourselves a force to be reckoned with, a powerful instrument for good. In the process you have not only achieved real change in an aspect of our common life which would have commanded little attention or esteem were it not for your efforts, but you have at the same time offered enormous support to those bereaved people who long for a clear verdict on the death in custody of someone who means a great deal to them.’
– Dr Peter Selby, President of the National Council for Independent Monitoring Boards