UK Charity Advising Australia About Improving Youth Custodial Centres

DIAGRAMA Chief Executive David McGuire is working closely with an Australian Government Agency to show them the successful Spanish blueprint for alternative juvenile detention which has flipped youth recidivism rates. In Diagrama custodial centres an incredible 84% of those who leave integrate back into the community without reoffending.

McGuire knows the figures in Spain are impressive compared with published results from other countries because young offenders leave Diagrama youth re-educational custodial centres with important skills and a positive attitude when they rejoin the community.  

Advocate for better custodial care for youth offenders, David McGuire has seen firsthand the success of the Spanish ‘re-education’ system that he implemented with the charity Fundacion Diagrama. Now CEO of Diagrama Foundation, the UK arm of the charity, Mr McGuire tirelessly campaigns for changes and improvements to youth custody.

Mr McGuire was invited to Australia in 2018 and 2019 to look around Juvenile Justice Centres in Darwin, Alice Springs, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and was stunned by what he saw.

He said:

“They were just horrible, run like prisons, which is not going to change anything for these kids.”

This year, Mr McGuire took an Australian government contingent to see how under the very different ethos and attitude their Spanish Justice centres operate. He said:

“The centres in Spain are not like prisons with high security, they are run by a team of qualified educators, psychologists and social workers who combine their skills to offer an alternative. Australian juvenile centres are staffed 100% by a security team, yet in our centres, security is only 30% of the total staff. Our security teams don’t interact with the kids, they are just like an airbag in a car, you don’t need to see it every day, but you know if you are in an accident, it is there.

“We know that juveniles serving custodial sentences need role models and education on the difference between right and wrong, and hope for the future,  not security guards and cells. We fill our centres with teachers and professionals to educate and teach trades. We do not need a team that thinks they are the good guys and the juveniles are the bad guys! It can’t be them and us  – we need to change embedded culture. It is not an overnight process but the results speak for themselves and now that the Australian Government are on board, I would love the opportunity to present the successful model to the British Government.”

Diagrama Foundation is a member of the International Juvenile Justice Observatory’s European Council for Juvenile Justice with more than 80 other members from all over Europe.

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