Holistic rehabilitation essential for deliquent juveniles - Hunter
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is taking a holistic approach to rehabilitating young girls in state care at the South Camp Road Juvenile Remand and Correctional Centre in Kingston.
Commissioner of Corrections, Ina Hunter, said an approximately $248-million (US$1.93-million) donation from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has enabled the facilitation of several social reintegration programmes at the Centre, all tailored towards improving the girls' lives.
She said that the programmes, being carried out with support from the Organization of American States (OAS), are designed to enhance the youngsters' emotional well-being, which it is anticipated will contribute to reduced recidivism and, ultimately, reduced crime and violence.
The OAS's involvement entails assigning its members to the South Camp Centre to teach the various programmes to the staff there.
They train them in areas such as how to impart educational information for the different age groups, technical and vocational training, as well as recreational activities, for example yoga.
Hunter noted that the South Camp Road facility, which is one of four housing children and the only one accommodating girls only, has experienced a significant and positive impact resulting from the OAS-implemented programmes.
"We offer life skills, remedial training, and vocational activities such as sewing, home economics and animation," she informed.
The Commissioner pointed out that the institution's gender-specific rehabilitation programme results from the increasing number of girls displaying delinquent behaviour who are committed to the facility.
... 'I developed leadership qualities there'
Commissioner of Corrections, Ina Hunter, said a probation and aftercare service for the young ladies after they have been discharged is an essential programme at South Camp Road Juvenile Remand and Correctional Centre in Kingston.
These services are administered by the probation and parole officers, social workers and civil society organisations, and enables the Department of Correctional Services to monitor the girls' activities over a specified period after their departure.
Sarah*, an 18-year-old young woman who spent just over two years at the South Camp Road Centre, said she left the institution a better person.
"Vocationally, I was taught how to sew, like doing embroidery and hemming clothes. Academically, I improved. I studied and passed two CXCs (Social Studies and English Language). I also learnt how to do domestic things, in terms of washing, cleaning and taking care of my living space," she shared.
Sarah, who said she was frequently locked up in a juvenile detention centre, points out that her stay at the South Camp Road facility was the turning point in her life.
"I developed my leadership qualities there. When I spoke to them (girls) they listened to me and looked up to me," she shared.
HARD TO LOSE FREEDOM
Additionally, she said she was able to use the guidance provided by the warders in a positive way.
She said her initial impression of the Centre was negative because she lost her freedom, adding that it was hard for her to adjust and settle in, since she did not like conforming to rules.
"A di disciplinary committee make mi change. When mi think 'bout the punishment, mi mind change from doing wrong things...it's not worth it; plus you start feel bad after a while," Sarah said, as she recounted what led her to embrace the Centre's rules and corrective structure.
Sarah noted that the disciplinary committee met monthly, and she did not like the feeling when her name was constantly brought up because of offences she had committed.
"In addition to the school stuff, we got a lot of other things, like yoga every morning, counselling for anger problems, 4-H club and business-training classes," she pointed out.
"Even while I am out, they are my support system; they check up on me to see how I am doing in school, if I need anything. They call and visit, we have sessions, meetings and so on."
She expressed that although she was able to discover her strengths and abilities during the confinement, she encouraged young girls to do the right things in life.
"Stay away from fights and bad company; stay into school - make sure yuh guh school; work hard towards your education, and think highly of yourself," Sarah recommended.
*Name changed to protect identity