Name: Koshika Krishna
Email id: [email protected]
College: 2nd Year, Rizvi law College.
Name of the Organization
Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, Mumbai
Juvenile Justice Homes in India: A Visit
I didn’t ever give this much thought. The fact that I was so fortunate to be born in a family that was mentally, financially and emotionally stable. Unless, I was first compelled to glimpse into the deep chasm of reality. I got the opportunity to visit the Juvenile Justice Home, nestling within the nooks of the infamous Dongri.
The entrance is through a small blue wrought iron door. The boys and the girls sections are divided. The house structure represents the ancient Indian architecture with a centrally placed open courtyard surrounded by rooms. These rooms form the hospital, kitchen and school.
The children are divided into two categories:
1. The CNCP represent the ‘Child in Need of Care and Protection’ primarily those picked up by social workers and police officer’s from streets, illegal work facilities like factories, hotels etc.,
2. The other category represents the CCL ‘Child in Conflict of Law’, those accused or convicted of committing crimes.
All children receive education and vocational training like carpentry and sewing during their stay so that they have at least the minimum writing and reading skills. The children are regularly given a medical examination by a government authorised doctor. This is specifically done in cases of violence that may occur during fights amongst the children.
They are all taught how to cook, and daily a batch of 10 of them prepare the meals for the rest of the present children. Their timetable is designed such that they are kept occupied productively the entire day.
Their mornings begin at 6 am sharp with exercise which is followed by a wholesome breakfast. The school begins at 10.30 am and goes on till 5 pm. In the course of this, they are taught all the three languages Hindi, English and Marathi and given physical education training as well.
The Juvenile houses often serve as certified schools of the State Government. The evenings are spent in recreational activities and end with dinner and lights out at 10 pm.
The stark truth to be noted though, is that most of the children at such institutions are from impoverished and downtrodden sections of the society. They lack proper parental guidance and education owing to which they get easily swayed into vagrancy and the pernicious seductions of vices.
Most of these children are drug addicts, alcoholics and petty crime offenders. I remember reading about one CCL, at the probation office. His father had died a few years back, motherless, he was bought to Bombay by his paternal aunt. She was a commercial sex worker and he would live off on odd jobs. It was here, that he entered into the wrong crowd and committed some serious offences. A weak socio-economic background is hence, the main cause of juvenile delinquency.
Although it is commendable that the government has provided such facilities for the development of the children even in juvenile houses, a serious fallacy to be noted, is that these children are given absolutely no psychological training or counselling during their sentence or stay, such that they do not fall back into the same vicious circle of crime.
These notions were echoed by a particular Board member of this institution as well. It is heartrending to learn that there doesn’t seem any promising progress on this in the future as well.
Even more pitiable is the fact that the government allocates only Rs. 639 per child as monthly maintenance for everything from food, clothing, education, medical need etc.
Is the system then really reforming them? We follow the reformative theory of punishment, but how effective is it being in such a case? They are simply kept in these remand houses until their sentences end. What is the point of this? What is the use of such institutions, if the reformation and eradication of juvenile delinquency is not done from the very roots?
The United States of America must in fact must be lauded for their efforts in this arena. Adoption of techniques such as the ‘focus groups’ help these children understand the magnitude of their crimes, accept it and learn to fight the societal embarrassment there are various innovative methods adopted.
A study shows that ‘focus groups’, confirmed that isolation and lack of activity remained key factors impacting negatively on the mental health of children, despite the prison having one of the highest levels of purposeful activity.
Lastly, due to no efficient mechanism to deal with social reintegration, most of these children fall back into the same patterns. Therefore, it is imperative that progressive correctional home reforms in the above stated areas take place, for the holistic development of these children.
The society must also be sensitized towards this issue. Some of these Juvenile homes accept donations in the form of clothes, books and stationary. I hence, strongly urge that every reader of this blog makes an effort to aid these institutions in every possible way. I will soon be organising a donation drive for books and clothes to these institutions myself. Anyone who would be interested in donating, is welcome!