Need for humane rehab facilities

Need for humane rehab facilities

Juvenile Offenders

How strongly do we need a proper rehabilitation programme for juvenile criminals?

In a recently held sensitisation programme by the Delhi Police, Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committee (CWC), questions were  raised  on repeat offenders and the role of corr­ectional homes  in ensuring implementation of stronger rehab programme.  But is a mere programme, where offic­ials come and speak about the problem, the only solution?  

Talking to Metrolife, retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Avtar Singh, who handled Special Juvenile Police Unit in the northeast part of the City says, “In maximum cases, children are apprehe­nded for snatching and robb­ery. There are a few who are arrested for committing hei­nous crimes. Since they are part of a gang, they are mostly given the job to collect inform­ation about people whom they want to rob or kill. These gan­gs misuse these kids to such an extent that they even provoke them to perpetrate a horrendous crime.”

According to him once the Police fulfils its duty and arrests the juvenile criminals, the young offenders are sent to juvenile justice board and thereafter to CWC which looks into the role of NGOs responsible for the rehabilitati­on of these children. 

“Proper rehabilitation has always been a big issue.  Once offenders are released from the correctional homes, there is no one to keep a tab on them. Therefore, they once again join the group and commit crimes,” points out the former police officer.

But where is the loophole in the rehabilitation process?  Former chairman of the CWC, east and northeast, Ajay Kumar Singh says, “We have been talking about rehabilitation of juvenile criminals in seminars for years but nothing has been done so far. Till date, we have not been able to look at different avenues of rehabilitation. It is a serious issue, but still we don’t have any policy that can ensure placement of these children in different job sectors, so that they do not become repeat offenders.”

In the absence of any alternative, the rehabilitation centres are sending these children back to their homes. “Since parents don’t look after them, they tend to repeat their offences,” says Ajay. A fact reiterated by the former ACP.

“On the other hand, admitting a juvenile criminal in sch­ool should not be the only rehabilitation option. It is imp­­­o­r- tant to give child an opportunity which he can be a part of and aim to build a career out of it. Ironically, in the absence of policies, children don’t get place in non-institutional set ups,” says Avtar.

Ajay draws attention towa­rds adoption. “Since there’s no one to keep an eye on the orp­h­­ans, they tend to become offenders. There are so many people who want to adopt kids. Owing to clumsy process of adoption, childless couple fail to enjoy parenthood. Government should work on the adoption guidelines as it will indirectly bring down the rate of juvenile criminals,” he says. 

On the other hand, one of the NGOs that has been working in this direction, Prayas Children Home Complex in Delhi Gate, says, they have be­en rehabilitating juvenile cri­minals by enrolling them in schools and in different vocational courses. 

Initially, they collect information about the children, give them counselling and reg­­­ister them for different classes as per their age. “If som­ebody is 12 years of age and atleast knows how to wri­te his name we enrol him in second standard. And those who come in the 14 to 16 age group get a chance to learn  tailoring and carpentry,” info­rms Arif, superintendent ha­­n­­dling juvenile offenders at Prayas. 

Ask him about the repeat offenders who come occasionally at the correction home and he says, “They have to be once again become part of all the activities. Since not many options of rehabilitation is provided by the state, we have to work with limited resources.”