Developed Countries Juvenile Justice System Criminology Essay

Published:

Canada proposed the legislation of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) in 2003.This Act main objective were to reduce the country`s high rate of youth incarceration based on an understanding that community based services are more efficient when dealing with young offenders. The Act protects the legal right of the youth such as access counseling, or right to reveal their problems in the youth justice.

The Youth Criminal provides wide structures which envelop issues of public awareness, crime prevention, education, child welfare, health, family and the community. "It adopts an integrated approach to all areas of young peoples` lives including mental health, education and welfare, and emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration as well as the long- term public safety."( Tustin&Lutes,2006)

Youth correctional services include both custodial and community supervision programs. Custodial supervision includes sentenced custody (open and secure custody) and remand. Community supervision consists of probation and the YCJA sentences, which encompasses the community portion of custody and supervision orders, and deferred custody and supervision orders. (Milligan. S, 2006).

The Youth Correctional facilities in Canada

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Professional

Essay Writers

Lady Using Tablet

Get your grade
or your money back

using our Essay Writing Service!

Essay Writing Service

The main activities of correctional facilities for juvenile offenders are intended to ensure the safe and secure investment and the management and control of juvenile offenders, as well as offer programs that address the criminogenic tendencies to help the successful reintegration of young offenders in the community.

Located in Coldbrook, the Center 24-7 is a parallel school program offered by the Institution for young offenders in Nova Scotia in partnership with the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board (AVRSB) and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. The arrangement of the student population is quite unique, with a mixture of young residents of the Institution for young offenders in Nova Scotia and youth at risk who are unable to function in the system of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. The program is designed to meet the educational needs and interpersonal development of young people and offer unique options as part of a process of case management well defined. The structure of the program are the

Step before the program; Program applicants undergo an evaluation after the subject of a recommendation by probation officers, the youth workers, program directors, student services and the AVRSB principals. Potential students are evaluated relative to their abilities and their cognitive skills to see if they can function in a group environment. A key requirement is that there is a support person available to students enrolled in the program. It can be a parent, relative or member of the community who makes himself available to provide support.

Educational program; the educational program follows the guidelines of the program of the Ministry of Education of Nova Scotia for the courses are fully recognized. The school follows a semester. The program offers classes with few students, personal attention and preparation for reintegration into a community school.

Experiential Learning; Trained personnel present opportunities to improve communication skills, problem solving and goal setting, giving students the opportunity to learn by doing something and talking after the event.

Program based on the adventure; to increase self-esteem and self confidence, the Centre offers activities for which nature and would present challenges. These activities include climbing inside, canoe trips with a night camping in the backcountry, camping, hiking and a ropes course acrobatics.

Daily living skills; the program skills to daily life are focused on personal growth and offer various courses to meet the needs of youth. The course topics include anger management and the harmful effects of misuse of alcohol and drugs.

Vocational training; the goal is to prepare young people for employability and improve their chances of finding and keeping jobs. The program focuses on writing letters, preparing a resume, skills for interviews and work placements in the community.

Further, the Canadian system adopts an integrated approach to all areas of young peoples' life and it emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration as well as long term public safety. This country is a good example of effective practice in juvenile justice.

United States of America (Pennsylvannia)

The Pennsylvannia Juvenile Court is objective and curative justice, the minimum and maximum ages of juvenile court jurisdiction are 10 years and 17 years. Court intake, probation supervision, and aftercare supervision are organized at the country level under the administrative authority of the juvenile court judge. The judges decide where juvenile will be committed and for what duration. There are strong partnerships among judges, district attorneys, public defenders, probation departments, community leaders and city country and state officials.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Comprehensive

Writing Services

Lady Using Tablet

Plagiarism-free
Always on Time

Marked to Standard

Order Now

Pennsylvannia`s policies and practices have shown effective results which include:

The juvenile Court Judges Commission conducts research and training, develops and oversees compliance with standards and engages in legislative and policy analysis on juvenile issues.

Legislated financial incentives for countries to keep young offenders at home, in their communities, and in least restrictive placements, rather than in locked state institutions.

Evidence based prevention and treatment practices that are empirically proven to be effective and central to treatment approaches in the state

Use of the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument for screening incarcerated youth to identity needs for mental health assessment and treatment. This instrument is used nearly statewide to help detention centres better meet the mental health needs for incoming youth

Detention Population Control and at the Philadelphia Youth Study Center which has made it possible to keep the detention population under 105 in a city of nearly 1.5 million residents.

Services provided to youth

Many services are supposed to be provided to the youth at both detention centers and confinement facilities. Services vary from facility to facility, but in general the programs and services provided to the youth are geared to the juvenile needs.] At the core, juvenile facilities function as rehabilitative institutions for youth. Education is seen by many as the primary rehabilitative service that must be provided to detained youth. Highly effective schools within juvenile facilities provide high school curriculum, opportunities for General Equivalency Diploma (GED) preparation, special education services, certified teachers, small student to teacher ratio, connection with families, and vocational training opportunities.

Mental Health

There is a long-standing connection found in research between youth who commit crimes and mental health concerns. There has been found to be a surprisingly high population of juveniles who present serious mental health illness within juvenile facilities. Being that juvenile detention facilities operate on the foundation of rehabilitating the youth, different mental health programs are provided by facilities to help the youth rehabilitate. It is the expectation that juvenile detention centers and juvenile institutions provide mental health services to their residents. The incarcerated youth population requires careful and structured intervention, which must be provided by the facilities.[

Many different mental health treatment strategies exist for juveniles. It is the responsibility of case management to decide what type of intervention strategy works best for each youth in his or her mental health treatment plan. Mental health services that can be provided to the youth include, individual counseling, group counseling, crisis counseling, family intervention, medication management, and transition planning.

Education

Education is seen by many as the cornerstone of youth rehabilitation. Many landmark court cases, such as the 1981 case of Green v. Johnson, have given way to juveniles receiving their educational rights while incarcerated. Green v. Johnson (1981) ruled that incarcerated students do not have to give up their rights to an education while incarcerated.

Despite research stating the need for strong educational programs in juvenile detention facilities, there does not exist a uniform standard for education in juvenile facilities as education settings in juvenile facilities greatly vary across the country. The overseer of the school within the juvenile facility differs from state to state. Some schools within juvenile detention facilities are decentralized, some are centralized and run by school districts, and others are overseen by a State education agency.

Australia (Tasmania)

In Tasmania youth justice services are provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Disability, Child Youth and Family Services (DCYFS). DCYFS is a new entity which is responsible for disability, health care and parenting, community development, adoption and permanency planning, child protection, family violence counseling and support, sexual assault and youth justice community and custodial services. These services were brought together under DCYFS to ensure client focused service delivery and better integration across services to avoid service gaps and overlaps and improve client provider communication.

The Community and Custodial Youth Justice Services work together closely to provide integrated assessment and case management practices. The Community Youth Justice Service provides supervision and case management for young people who have received a court order or a community service undertaking as decided during a community conference. Custodial Youth Justice Services are provided at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre in close coordination with the community Youth Justice Service to ensure that the assessments which inform case management, including pre- and post-release planning are comprehensive and up to date.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

This Essay is

a Student's Work

Lady Using Tablet

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Examples of our work

The Ashley Youth Detention Centre purpose is to provide secure care and custody for young men and women who are remanded or sentenced by the courts, through the provision of rehabilitative programs in accordance with the principles of the Youth Justice Act 1997. Thus, the vision of the centre is to work together to enhance a young person`s return to the Community.

An overview of youngsters in Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Young aborigines over represent in the centre with 6.5% admission.

A large proportion of young people in custody are affected by neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Many detainees have committed serious offenses involving violence

Some suffer depression and emotional instability

A significant number of young people in custody repot having attempted suicide or self harm.

Many leave school before year 8 and have low literacy skills.

Services given in the Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Provision of a high quality secure care environment for young people.

Rehabilitation of young people in custody to enable them to become more responsible citizens.

Improved health and well being outcomes for young people in custody.

Improved capacity for reintegration of young people.

Promotion of organization and management structure that provides beat practice service for young people in custody.

Education-vocational and educational training.

Parenting. Personalized training, internal project Hahn offsite Recreational and Community focused Activities.

Gardening, Maintenance, Art and Sport

Case management in Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Responsibility - Youngsters have to develop a sense of responsibility as it is important to learn pro social behavior.

Rehabilitation - Addressing the risk factors of reoffending (cultural factors, unemployment, literacy/numeracy, drug/substance abuse, development stage, history of child abuse/neglect/domestic violence, mental health issues, family background)

Reparation - repairing the damage that has been done through engaging in programs and services and reducing the risk of reoffending.

Deterrence- Once the young person is returned to the community, deterring the incidence of reoffending through heightened social responsibility.

Diversion- strengthening family, community and cultural relationships to minimize the social impact of detention.

Juvenile Justice System in SADC countries

South Africa

South Africa ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child ("CRC"), shortly after the advent of democratic rule, in June 1995. In the process leading to the formulation of the National Programme of Action that followed ratification, the matter of law reform for children was identified as an important priority. The most pressing reason for this was the need to eliminate overt discrimination, especially racial discrimination, from the statute book, but there were other compelling factors as well. Not the least of these was the need to the harmonise the laws of the so- called "independent bantustans" created under apartheid with those of the rest of South Africa, and the desire to take legislative account of the provisions of the Convention itself. Since the CRC was the first international convention to be ratified by South Africa, previously denied accession to UN treaties, the review of legislation pertaining to children enjoyed high political profile and support.

One of the first legal changes- triggered by the adoption of South Africa's 1994 constitution - was the abolition of corporal punishment, both in schools, and as a sentence that could be imposed upon juvenile offenders. Prior to 1994, whipping was the sanction most often used by judicial officers in cases involving juveniles, and in 1993, over 43 000 sentences of this nature were imposed upon children. [ see breakaway box here] Subsequent to the abolition of corporal punishment, interim amendments have been brought about in a range of areas relevant to children's rights, including a ban on commercial sexual exploitation of children and new legislation prohibiting child pornography. Extensive regulatory provisions to protect children in the residential care system have also been passed by Parliament.

These were all brought about by limited amendments to existing legislation, namely the Child Care Act 74 of 1983 and the Films and Publications Control Act of 1991. However, the first major stand- alone law review project aimed at entrenching children's rights has recently been completed: the South African Law Commission accepted the Report of the Project Committee on Juvenile Justice on 1 April 2000.

The Project Committee on Juvenile Justice, appointed by the Minister of Justice in 1996, had the task of developing (for the first time) legislation for a separate juvenile justice system for the country, in accordance with international human rights standards. Until now, no separate statute or procedures have existed for children charged with offences, and they have generally been subject to the same criminal process as adults. Interestingly, because of South Africa's unique history, most members of the 5 member Project Committee were drawn from the NGO sector: they had all been involved in children's rights campaigning and anti- apartheid work prior to the African National Congress's accession to power.

The Project Committee published two consultative papers during the course of its three year investigation, the second of which was a substantial Discussion Document which included a 120 page Draft Bill. Despite the fact that the original name of the project committee related to juvenile justice, the Bill was termed the Child Justice Bill, to emphasis the focus on children's rights and avoiding the stigmisation inherent in the word "juvenile".

The procedural system proposed in this Bill was both revolutionary - for South Africa, and possibly more widely - and, at the same time, cognisant of the severe resource constraints facing the country. The Project Committee was of the opinion that it was unlikely that government would be able to inject vast capital resources into the setting up of a new juvenile justice system.

A further point of interest was that the Bill, for the first time in South Africa, referred to, and entrenched, diversion and aspects of restorative justice. Drawing to some extent on the New Zealand model of conferencing, and Australian research on restorative Justice processes, and building on indigenous processes of dispute resolution, the Bill attempts to provide the widest possible framework for the development of these alternatives to formal court procedures, without going as far as to introduce them as a compulsory step..

The Bill formed the focus of country wide consultations during 1999, and provided the Project Committee with a unique opportunity to address departmental and magisterial concerns about aspects of the Bill in advance of the parliamentary process (which still lies ahead). Without derogating from the overarching concern that the legislation reflects an approach consistent with international children's rights (evident especially from the clauses dealing with the principles and objectives of the juvenile justice system), three major themes emerged from the consultations with officials from the Departments of Justice, Police, Correctional Services and Welfare. These had to be addressed by the Committee in the formulation of final legislation proposals.

The first anxiety was that a system of obligatory consideration of diversion before plea by a judicial officer, as first proposed in the Discussion Paper, could consitute a possible encroachment upon constitutionally entrenched prosecutorial powers, and consequently, an objectionable leaning towards judicial decision- making in what is correctly the prosecutorial sphere. This issue has now been clarified in the Report: the Bill now specifies that the prosecution may, after the round table "conference" at which diversion must be considered, nevertheless indicate that prosecution is warranted. 

Second, concerns were expressed by both civil servants and NGO's about the capacity of government to implement the legislation. This sentiment is by no means limited to the juvenile justice or children's rights arena, but has been a general complaint about the performance of government in the period immediately following democratic rule: much good law has been passed by Parliament in the creation of a new democratic order, but the benefits to and changes in society at large have still to be felt by most. The failure to deliver is often ascribed to the difficulties - fiscal and otherwise - of the implementation of legislation by a bureaucracy which itself has undergone rapid transformation since 1994. Also, the macro- economic climate has changed since legislative drafting commenced, and government austerity, cut- backs on social spending and reduction of the civil service are all now elements of prevailing economic policy.

 The Project Committee was fortunate in obtaining donor funding to undertake pre-emptive steps to alleviate at least some aspects of the fear that government may not have the capacity to implement the Draft Bill. Early on, the need for some kind of an economic cost-benefit analysis was identified by the team drafting the legislation, chiefly to be used as an advocacy tool in support of the passage of legislation in the parliamentary process. Rather than vaguely asserting that the proposed legislation was indeed within the country's capacity and available resources, we thought it desirable to have facts and figures upfront to justify and support any claims made regarding the fiscal prudence of the proposed provisions . An additional thought was that in areas where government would need to spend money (e.g. in expanding diversion programmes), the relevant department would be empowered to budget for and allocate the necessary expenditure with full knowledge of future spending priorities.

In what is a first for legislative processes in South Africa, the Report to the Law Commission is now accompanied by a full economic analysis of the juvenile justice system proposed in the earlier working paper. To the great delight of the Project Committee, the scenario analysis appears to show that the proposed procedures for children accused of offences will ultimately entail reduced costs for government. Perhaps not entirely unexpectedly, despite increased projected expenditure on welfare services, diversion programmes and probation officers, huge overall cost savings will be brought about by limiting incarceration costs. This is achieved through limiting the time that children may spend in pre-trial detention in police custody, limiting the age at which children may be detained on remand, limiting the remand time for non-serious offences, and limiting the use of imprisonment as a sentence to convictions for serious and violent offences, and then only for children above a certain age. 

The end result of these reforms is that detention and prison costs - and all the associated costs of e.g. transport to courts - to the Correctional Services and Police Departments will be cut by approximately half. Perhaps tellingly, the costing study shows that adherence to international human rights norms need not entail extraordinary expenditure, but can actually result in savings to government! In addition, the study clearly states that only direct costs have been calculated, so that the predicted savings do not take the social costs of reducing incarceration, and increasing access to diversion, into account.

The third concern, expressed repeatedly during consultations on earlier versions of the Bill, and perhaps a familiar strain in debates here, is whether the proposed legislation sufficiently protects the public from children convicted of (or charged with) serious offences. The "crime problem" in South Africa has been the topic of much national and international media attention, and the climate for the liberalisation of laws concerning child offenders has undoubtedly suffered setbacks in recent years. The Project Committee has, throughout the Bill, emphasised that all decisions regarding diversion, transfer to the welfare system, sentencing and even the proposed possibility of expungement of juvenile criminal records must be individualised, and not linked to a prior number of convictions or a list of serious offences. It is nevertheless clear, though, that courts will be able (within this framework) to detain and sentence children charged with very serious offences to prison. Thus the small minority of children who are charged with murder, hijacking and armed robbery will receive the benefits of treatment under a legal regime which accords with children's rights standards, and protects their best interests during the trial process: however, they may not escape eventual imprisonment as a sentence.

The development of South Africa's first youth justice statute has provided a valuable starting point for the enshrinement of international children's rights norms in our domestic legislation. Also, the law reform process has given us the opportunity to experiment with advocacy initiatives, such as the costing study described above. A consultation process with children on the tenets of the Bill was also conducted, and the children's views were incorporated in detail in the final report.

Austrialia's mandatory sentencing laws, the subject of such intensive debate since my arrival here, seem to run in a contrary direction to the path South Africa has set out to follow: individualised responses to child offending, consideration of the best interests of the child, the expansion of diversion as a positive step towards addressing the causes of offending, and the injunction of the Convention that incarceration should be used only as a matter of last resort, and then only for the shortest period of time, are all negated by a mandatory sentencing regime. I can only wish DCI well in its efforts to ensure the reversal of this legislation.

Julia Sloth- Nielsen

Centre for Public and International Law

Australia National University

(Member: SA Law Commission Project Committee on Juvenile Justice)

Angola

In Angola the juvenile justice system ceased to function as a consequence of the war and children were not guaranteed adequate legal, social and psychological protection. Minors in conflict with the law were tried by ordinary courts and kept in adult detention facilities.

The project launched in 2001 by UNICRI and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained the country's judicial traditions and pre-existing system based on reconciliation, while at the same time strengthening the institutional and administrative framework of the Angolan Juvenile Justice System. The programme aimed to reinforce the Angolan institutions in their effort to set up and manage an effective Juvenile Justice System comprising of efficient juvenile courts and related social services. The strategy of the programme was to assist the Angolan Government in setting-up the Juvenile Court, the Juvenile Justice Department within the Ministry of Justice, in establishing a network of prevention/rehabilitation centres to become referral centres for the court, and in reinforcing the documentation centre and data base of the Angolan National Institute for Children's Support on the situation of children in Angola. At the social level, the project introduced pilot activities aimed to reintegrate children into the social system by collaborating with other UN entities, local institutions and NGOs. These organizations include UNICEF, UNDP and IOM, which are working in the field of minors.

The main objective was to ensure that the Juvenile Justice System was administered in the best interest of the minor, to provide adequate training to the administrators of the Juvenile Justice System (judges, prosecutors, social workers, police officers), the organization of an effective and efficient justice and social system and the development of training material for the protection of minors and the prevention of delinquency. The programme developed a child-oriented and juvenile delinquency prevention system by promoting a complete approach, relying on a network of community-based social services by targeting youth, children, families and communities.

The social activities included the opening of, and support to, the operation of a National Observatory on the Conditions of Minors and four pilot social centres in different municipalities of Luanda to assist children at risk and in conflict with the law. Support included refurbishment of premises, provision of equipment and training of personnel.

The programme has strived to ensure equal services for both genders. The main activities had a particular attention to the specific needs of girls, dedicating a section for them in the Observation Centre as well as promoting gender-related training for the Juvenile Court, Observation Centre and Social Centre personnel.

The programme also supported the Angolan Ministry of Justice in the elaboration of criteria for the accreditation, registration and monitoring of foster families and private / NGO institutions where sentenced minors may serve alternative measures decided by the Court.

Yet another indispensable component of the programme included information and awareness campaigns, both in Angola and abroad, on the difficulty that Angolan minors encounter and the efforts taken to guarantee the children's rights.

ï‚· The Luanda Juvenile Court was inaugurated in June 2003. During its first year of activity, the Juvenile Court processed 656 cases.

ï‚· In October 2004, UNICRI/Luanda published a monograph on the Angolan 1996 Juvenile Law, which includes suggestions for its revision in line with the provisions of relevant international instruments.

The aim in the second phase of the program was the consolidation of the Juvenile Justice System in Luanda, building on the judicial and social structures set in place in phase 1. The second phase of the program based its strategy on a close collaboration established between Angolan institutions, particularly the Angolan Ministry of Justice (MINJUS), the Angolan Ministry of Social Affairs (MINARS), as well as international organizations, UN Agencies and NGOs.

Activities 2005 - 2011

The main component of the consolidation process consisted in organizing upgraded courses for the operators of the Juvenile Justice Court, the Observation Centre, the Social Centres and the Municipal Administrations.

Skills trainings were carried out to enhance knowledge on the applicability of the law 9/96, the regulations of the Tutelary Commission of Minors, the measure of the assisted freedom and the measure of delivery of services to the community. Beneficiaries of the training were magistrates, police, prosecutors, social centre educators, members of the tutelary commission and representatives of the Municipal Administrations. The training activities were conducted in the Angolan National Institute for Judicial Studies (INEJ), the Minors Court and Angolan National Institute for Children's Support (INAC) by local consultants with high level experience and experts in legal /social training. Some of these experts had benefited from the training courses carried out during the first phase of the program.

In cooperation with the Italian Juvenile Justice Department of the Ministry of Justice, three study visits to Italy were carried out in order to familiarise participants with Italian legislation, institutions and practices in the administration of juvenile justice. The outcome of the training tours resulted in a great opportunity to establish a dialogue and a professional network between the two countries.

The Observation Center for Girls was furnished with various equipment and materials to carry out educational activities and vocational training. The program also provided the Tutelary Commission of Minors with some equipment and materials.

The social component of the training consisted in providing courses addressed to the staff of the Observation Centre and to minors, and dealt with issues such as literacy, scholastic catch up classes, organization of sports activities, relationships with families and had the aim to identify the role and aspirations of the child. Moreover, a new form of training model on Community and Freedom-Assisted Provision Services, group dynamics and family mediation targeted towards police officers and social centres was developed for the Juvenile Justice System.

Yet another component of the activities included public awareness campaigns on children`s rights that were initiated by UNICRI and carried out with the support of municipal administrations, markets, schools, health centres and churches. For example, workshops on child victimization were conducted in schools in order to sensitise teachers on these issues. Additionally, in collaboration with IOM (International Organization on Migration), workshops were conducted focusing on gender issues in order to promote equal services.

The interconnection of both components, social and institutional, ensured that the Juvenile Justice System is administered in the best interest of the child. This combination resulted in the development of appropriate training for administrators of the Juvenile Justice System (magistrates, social workers and police); in the organization of an effective and efficient social system; and in the development of training materials for the protection of minors and crime prevention.

The second edition of Ms. Maria do Carmo Medina`s book Juvenile Court Act and the Juvenile Court Code of Procedure was updated and contains the regulations on the Tutelary Commission and the Community Measures on Assisted-Freedom Provision Services, both published in the Republic Gazette. The textbook represented the basis of training activities and was disseminated during seminars and courses. Another publication included the Theoretical and Practical Manual for Social Operators in the Juvenile Court, which was printed in collaboration with the Italian NGO CIES, and distributed both in Angola and in Italy.

Main results:

All operators engaged within the Juvenile Court are trained and competent in their field of work;

The Juvenile Justice Court, Observation Centre and four municipalities' social centres are set up, operational, equipped, furnished and provided with working tools and running cost resources;

The Observation Centre, Social Centres and the Juvenile Justice Court have been provided with a standardized data collection system;

The INAC (Angolan National Institute for Children's Support) database and documentation centre has been rendered operational;

Exchange of information and best practices between the Angolan Juvenile Justice institutions and the Italian Juvenile Justice Department has been established;

The collaboration between the civil society and local institutions as well as a dialogue with Italian and Angolan entities and organizations has been created.

The Ministry of Justice has, based on the success achieved in Luanda, decided to extend the project to other nine provinces (Benguela, Bengo, Cabinda, Kwanza-Sul, Huambo, Huila, Malange and Zaire).

UNICRI has been included in the new EU technical fiche related to the funding for Justice called Desenvolvimento da Capacidade Institucional no Contexto da Modernizao da Funo Publica no sector da Justice

UNICRI has been contacted by the Minister for Family and Women Affairs (MINFAMU) to organize a seminar on domestic violence and HIV/AIDS in collaboration with UNAIDS. The seminar will target high representatives of the Angolan government, other members of Parliament, as well as representatives of civil society involved in this issue and in gender issues in general.

The MINFAMU has shown interest in UNICRI supporting the Ministry in the framework of technical assistance for the formulation of the rules on the Law against Domestic Violence.

Tanzania

By Bernard James

The Citizen Reporter (29 January 2012)

It is internationally agreed that the rationale behind trying children in juvenile courts and committing them to children detention facilities or prison is not punitive, but to convert and enable them to reintegrate in society upon their release.But findings of a report on inspection of children in detention facilities conducted by the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) in Tanzania paints a different picture and raises serious questions over Tanzania's commitment in protecting  the rights of  children.

According to the report, despite the fact that Tanzania is currently experiencing an increased number of children detainees, many of these children lose their human rights when they are held in detention. Of serious concern about this phenomenon is that, even after months or years of staying behind bars and in inhuman conditions, the treatment and care these children receive while in detention has only served to make them worst enemies of their respective communities.

The report says the condition in detention and treatment of children fall far short of international human rights standards and those children were not receiving reintegration and rehabilitation services - a primary purpose of the juvenile justice system.

As figures emerging from visits to detention facilities from 2008 to 2010 indicate a significant increase in the number of children being held in detention facilities, authorities say  urgent measures must be taken to ensure respect for dignity of children. "These children are often held in adult prisons and the conditions in detention and the treatment they received fell far short of international human rights standards. Children were not receiving adequate access to reintegration and rehabilitation activities and services," reads part of the report released last year.

The findings corroborate earlier findings by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) 2010 Tanzania Human Rights Report which indicated that the country's  juvenile justice system was highly unfavourable to children.

LHRC concluded that prison conditions for both adults and children were inhuman and degrading. In its report, the CHRGG assessed the situation in 65 children detention facilities.

The assessment gave a clear picture regarding the conditions for and treatment of children in police stations, in Detention Homes (facility for under-18s on remand), in the Approved School (facility for convicted under-18s) and in adult prisons. Social workers, lawyers, teachers and members of the Department of Social Welfare went around the country during the assessment and finally came out with, among other recommendations, ways of improving the situation in the children detention centres.

Conditions and treatment of children in detention

One of the key revelations of  the report was that children in detention do not have access to meaningful activities and programmes to help their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

According to the report, children were found to have limited access to education, vocational training, psychosocial support and recreation to help their rehabilitation in the Retention Homes, Approved Schools and in the prisons.

 "They are not given individual plans for rehabilitation and there are very limited mechanisms or programmes to help children to reintegrate into society on their release," it says.

A detention personnel interviewed during the assessment conceded that it is extremely difficult for a child to be rehabilitate in such circumstances.

International standards provide that the primary objective of a juvenile justice system must be rehabilitation and reintegration of the child into the community, rather than deterrent and punishment. And international covenants on protection of children rights have always stressed that detention should only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate time. In recognition of the inherent vulnerability of children, additional rights for children detainees are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). The UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty ('Havana Rules') in particular, provide a detailed set of standards for their protection and treatment. During the inspection visits, a total of 591 children were found in the 65 detention centres. Out of them, 441 were detained in adult prisons;  407 were boys and 34 were girls.

Researchers have also established that a good number of children in detention are child-workers. Most frequently boys in detention were involved in selling scrap metal and plastic bottles, or they wash cars or act as porters for passers-by. Girls in detention are often domestic workers who have been accused of theft by their employers. "…these convictions are frequently based upon false witness evidence from their employers," says the report. Another finding of the assessment was that children were being held in police stations for many hours, and even days before being taken to court and that age determination was inaccurate during arrest and detention.

Another notable finding of the report was the improper ways police used to determine the age of suspects. Findings of CHRGG showed that police officers determined the age of suspects by relying on information supplied by victims and on their own observation, which according to CHRGG, may not be an accurate process.

Under Tanzanian laws, a child under the age of 10 is not criminally liable. A child between 10 and 12 years old may be held criminally liable if the prosecution can demonstrate that the child was able to understand that what he was doing was wrong. A total of 27 out of 179 children who were interviewed during the inspection visits said they were under 10 years of age. "Some children complained that the police officers 'added' years to their age so that they appeared to have reached the age threshold for criminal responsibility or so that they could be treated as adults.

Boys interviewed in Arusha central prison complained that police officers sought bribes to record that they are younger so that they can be sent to the Retention Homes rather than to adult prisons. Another key finding of the report was that children were not always held separately from adults at police stations and conditions are generally poor. Section 102 of the Law of Child Act, 2009, stipulates that children should be held separately from adults while in police custody.

However, out of 30 police stations visited during this assessment, only four had a separate cell where children could be detained. Children are either held in cells with adults or are kept in offices or corridors, the report says.

The mixing of children with adults in cells in prisons and police stations has exposed children to risk of sexual abuse.  Tanzania is committed to ensuring these international standards are upheld and this is evidenced by ratification of the CRC and ACRWC. Under the ongoing Legal Sector Reform Programme (LSRP ), the government  has made efforts to improve prison  conditions by increasing the number of judges and magistrates to speed up cases and thereby reducing the congestion in prisons, establishing parole boards, renovating prisons infrastructure, and enhancing basic services.

The report recommends that the vast majority of children in conflict with the law should be diverted from the formal criminal justice system at as early a stage as possible.

"… where the child's case does come to trial, alternative sanctions which promote rehabilitation and reintegration into society, rather than punishment, should be used," recommends the report.  

Detention should be an exceptional measure, to be used only for a small minority of children who have committed serious and violent crimes and where no other measure would meet the needs of that child.

CHRGG recommends that where children are given a custodial sentence, those institutions must have rehabilitation and reintegration as the main objective of all policies and processes and early release should be used as often as possible.

Separation from adults in pre-trial detention

The United Nations has always insisted children placed in pre-trial detention should always be held separately from adults. A UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) committee had noted that "there is abundant evidence that the placement of children in adult prisons or jails compromises their basic safety, well-being, and their future ability to remain free of crime and to reintegrate".

The CRC Committee recommends that States should establish separate facilities for children deprived of their liberty. But the CHRGG states clearly that in practice, this separation does not happen in Tanzania. The inspection visits revealed that 441 children were being accommodated in the 29 adult prisons visited and that the vast majority of these children were boys.

The research revealed that there is no consistency in approach by magistrates in making decisions as to whether to remand children to pre-trial detention in adult prisons or in Retention Homes. Children are remanded in adult prisons even in areas where Retention Homes are in operation and even though these facilities are under utilised. Prison officials have always distanced themselves from the blame, arguing that their role is to receive detainees referred from the court.  They, instead, shift blame to magistrates, who are often unaware of the law governing children's cases. CHRGG findings have established that children in both pre and post trial detention are not separated from adults when they are held in prison and un-convicted under-18s are not separated from convicted prisoners. In the worst cases, children mix during the day and night with adults (e.g. Kilosa prison).

Rehabilitation and reintegration

International standards promote a holistic approach to rehabilitation and reintegration which addresses both the practical and emotional needs of the child.  Article 37(c) CRC provides  that "Every child deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person". Rule 26 (2) of the Beijing Rules states: "Juveniles detained in facilities should be guaranteed the benefit of meaningful activities and programmes which would serve to promote and sustain their health and self respect, to foster their sense of responsibility and encourage those attitudes and skills that will assist them in developing their potential as members of society".

In the prisons, children have no access to rehabilitative activities or services. Provision in all facilities of education, vocational training and recreation was found by the inspectors to be wholly inadequate. For instance, a 16-year-old boy in Luanda Prison stated that, "Our situation is not good; there is no adequate space, education and vocational training in the prison."

"There are no mechanisms or programmes to help children be re-integrated with their families and communities on their release. Children are only supported with transport fares home, and only provided with this support if their addresses are known," says the report.

Separation from adults post-trial

Of the 441 children held in various prisons across the country, only 64 had been convicted.  These convicted children are not separated from adults whilst in detention - as is the case with pre-trial juvenile detainees. Their imprisonment is in direct contravention of the Law of the Child Act (2009). The only post trial detention permitted is in the Approved School and only for a maximum of three years. However, children are placed in adult prisons even though the Approved School is under utilised.  At the time of the inspectors' visit to the Approved School, there were 56 children being held there whilst it has a capacity to hold 300 children.  

Violence against children in detention

Children in detention are extremely vulnerable to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation at the hands of fellow detainees, staff or even from self-harm (including suicide). Girls can be especially vulnerable to sexual abuse.   

Article 19 CRC places duty on States to take all appropriate legislative, administrative and educational measures to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of any person who has care of the child. It must be noted that penal laws in Tanzania protect children from violence and sexual abuse both in detention and outside. Prisons rules and regulations also enshrine the right of children to be protected from abuse.  

CHRGG came across some serious allegations of violence, abuse and sexual assault in prisons made by children interviewed during the inspection visits. Abusers were mainly identified as adult prisoners, with children also identifying prison officers as abusers.  Children's reports showed that they were most vulnerable to sexual abuse at night, especially in prisons in which children are not separated from adults.

Special treatment of girls in detention

Girls in detention facilities are at particular risk of physical and sexual abuse, particularly when detained in mixed-sex facilities, or where a general lack of facilities for girls results in placement in adult facilities. Interviews with staff at the Retention Homes and prisons revealed that girls who are pregnant or who are detained with their children pose a serious challenge to the management of the facilities as they struggle to meet the needs of both mother and child. It was also found that insufficient attention was paid to the needs of girls to have sanitary napkins, brassieres and underpants. The situation of girls is usually much worse than for boys. In many facilities, the outside space is reserved for boys meaning for example that girls in one Retention Home were locked up for the whole day in their rooms with no access to outside space for exercise.