Dead Behind Bars

Confirmed for BBC Three on 24 April at 9.00pm to 10.00pm

Thursday 24 April



Part of BBC Three's Crime & Punishment season. In the last 10 years, 80 children and young people under 21 have killed themselves in prison in England and Wales.* Although they found themselves on the wrong side of the law, they were also vulnerable young people in the care of the state.

The UK government has announced it is setting up an independent review to investigate self-inflicted deaths of people aged 18-24 in custody. Campaigners say there were common themes linked to many deaths of young people in custody, and the families want answers.

This one-off documentary tells the story of these deaths behind bars through the testimony of families and friends. It reveals flaws in the system and a series of lapses in care, which raise questions about whether some of these deaths may have been preventable.

Adam Rushton was 20 years old when he hanged himself from the bars of his bunk bed in HMP Brinsford in 2009. Adam suffered abuse and neglect as a child, before he was adopted aged seven. He first got into trouble with the police when he was 16 and had various stints inside prison. The day that Adam was sentenced to what would be his final time in prison, a community psychiatric nurse documented that he was at risk of self-harm and suicide. He took his own life just two days later.

Ryan Clark also had a difficult childhood growing up in the care of a foster family, and was then in and out of hostels until the age of 16. Aged 17, he got into trouble with the law and was sent to HMP Wetherby on remand in 2011. This was Ryan’s first time in custody and his family believe 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 and that he had intended for someone to save him. Ryan’s mother and foster parents hope to prove at the inquest that it was ‘death by misadventure’.

*Souce: Inquest