Advice For Janley - From An Ex-Con

 I think there could be several possible reasons for your nephew’s current attitude. Maybe he is full of teenage bravado. At that age, many lads think they are invincible and indestructible. They feel the need to ‘big it up’ and play the man, particularly in front of family. That doesn’t mean that in their pads (cells) at night they don’t feel fear, regret, sadness and the pain of separation from loved ones and friends. In a locked pad, on their own, believe me some of these lads cry like little kids, but they’d never admit it. The second possibility is that your nephew is trying to put a brave face on it. We’ve all done that, believe me. As a prisoner you feel guilty about what’s happened, and for all the stress this is causing the family, so the last thing you want to do is make them feel even more worried for you. “Everything’s fine, mum. It’s great here!” Take it with a pinch of salt. If he is doing well, then great, but don’t really believe that being in a YOI is “cool”. It’s not. The third possibility is that he really has made friends inside. YOIs tend to be very tribal and lads from the same hometown or area often group together for mutual support and protection. Maybe he's met someone he knew from outside. Lads of his age are also looking for male role models – he’s still a kid and still has to finish growing up. As long as this group isn’t some kind of gang, he’s probably going to be OK. I’ve worked in adult prisons with loads of young lads who’ve come up from YOIs and those who were popular and had mates around them seem to have come through it without too much trouble or bullying. My advice is you know him best. Don’t judge him on how he seems at the moment. Hopefully you have a strong enough relationship that he’d let you know if anything really is going badly wrong inside. I would advise holding off judgement until he gets back home. Then he can tell you the full story, good and bad.