Turkey: 60 percent of jailed youth return to prison after being released

Recidivism is high among youth criminals in Turkey as more than half of released minors eventually end up back in prison due to a lack of opportunities and support structures upon their release, said the Youth Re-autonomy Foundation of Turkey (TÇYÖV).

60 percent of the children that are jailed in Turkey return to prison again after being released, according to figures from the Youth Re-autonomy Foundation of Turkey (TÇYÖV).

300 children between the ages of 12-15 and 2,800 between the ages of 15-18 are currently imprisoned in child penal facilities across Turkey.

“However long we leave them inside, and however few educational, social, and cultural activities are provided, they inevitably communicate with the other children, and they take part in the criminal world,” said TÇYÖV’s board chairwoman Nevin Özgün, who conducted a study in the cities of Istanbul and Konya with 110 young people between the ages of 12-24 that had previously been incarcerated.

“When the children are released, we observed that they leave with a ‘this bed is mine, don’t touch it, I will be back’ type of mentality,” Özgün said.

The foundation emphasized in its research that children are incentivized to continue to commit crime because they lack the proper support mechanisms on the outside, and are dragged back into criminal activity and ultimately back into the prison system.

TÇYÖV called for the establishment of a separate cabinet ministry focusing on children, which would be composed of child experts and geared toward meeting the needs of children in the country.

It also urged for criminal law-related content to be added to school curriculums so that children gain consciousness of the country’s criminal justice system at an earlier age.