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Rehabilitation of Juveniles: Empowering Young Lives for a Brighter Future

Juvenile or Children are a conflict with law referred to children under the age of 18 years and suspected or accused of committing a crime or be part of illegal activity. Children in conflict with law cannot be arrested by a police officer and can only be apprehended. Only minors between the age of 16-18 years committed heinous crimes can be treated and tried as adults.

The child in conflict with law cannot be tried in criminal courts and should be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board Chaired by a Magistrate and two social worker members. The idea of having social workers on the Juvenile Justice Board is to handle the child with concern to his/her future and to treat them with proper care.

The child in conflict with the law has the following rights based on the Child Rights Convention, humane treatment, no corporal punishment if detained separation from adult criminals at the correctional facility, access to legal assistance, bail and release on recognizance, privacy, diversion, (Education, skill development, sports etc.), proportionate judgment (age considerate Judgement), minimum possible restrictions on liberty, automatic suspension of sentence, probation on merit, confidentiality of proceedings, right against discrimination, constitutional rights. The major concern on the detention of a child in conflict with law is to make him/her understand and repent for the crime committed.

After the juvenile Justice Board stipulated detention the child may be released from the probation. Great care is required to reintegrate the juvenile back into society.

Childcare institutions and social welfare organisations work hand in hand with government nodal agencies to find constructive solutions to the rehabilitation of the Juvenile. To ensure this Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are laid down by the Ministry of women and child development. Follow up by social workers and probation or parole officer is done periodically to make sure the child reintegrate well into the society he/she was once barred from.

What is rehabilitation?

The primary motto of punishment is to make the convict understand the grievous nature of the crime committed and regret his/her actions. Hence after the completion (full or partial) of the sentence, the convict has to be prepared to get back into society. The ex-convicts always viewed with a suspicious mind by the general public. Hence the ex-convicts should be prepared mentally and may be taught skill sets to improve their job ability.

Special programs to prevent substance abuse, improve mental health, continuing education was framed for sexual offenders, women parolees and children in conflict with the law. The importance slowly downgraded as the twentieth century progressed towards its end. It regained momentum as human rights concerns are high on the activists' list.

How does rehabilitation for Juveniles work?

  • While the juveniles held accountable for their violation of the law and kept in juvenile homes or other relevant correctional facilities for public safety, the primary aim is to rehabilitate them. The rehabilitative process includes psychological assessment of the crime committed by the juvenile and the environment, causing it to happen, therapeutic guidance, skill development, involving them in yoga and other mind developing activities.
  • Financial constraints of the government wade rehabilitation away and involvement of social workers and non-profit organisations resulted in cost-effective multi-modal rehab programs for the juveniles.

What are the provisions made by the juvenile Justice Act?

  • he Juvenile Justice Act provides for the rehabilitation of the to begin as soon as the child's transfer to the care home or other correctional facilities. The social recognition of the child in conflict with the law can be done by:
    1(a). Aftercare care Organisations:-
  • These are transitional homes where the child is kept before totally reintegrated into society. Aftercare organisations are special homes registered under the governmental nodal agency functions for the welfare of delinquent children.
  • At the aftercare organisations, the juveniles were given:
    1. Vocational training
    2. Therapeutic training to improve psychological behaviour
    3. Continuing education
    4. Consensus about social values
    5. Economical ability to support themselves
    6. Activities for physical and mental fitness
  • The juveniles are taken care of in after care organisations which transitional homes after they leave the special homes and children's home. Juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, both categories are places in the aftercare organisations.
1(b). sponsorship:
  • It is the financial help given for child care organisations, foster families, individuals or individual groups to meet the expenses of the juveniles' rehabilitation programs. It may be a government aid or by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) or by individuals.

1(c). Foster Care:
  • It is one of the non-institutional care provided for the juveniles. Based on Section 42 of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, the child may be placed with a foster family environment or parental care which cannot be possible in normal institutional rehabilitation. The child is provided with education as well as family care. The foster family is paid for this service, and it is voluntary in nature.
  • A child may be placed in foster care if the natural parents are:
    1. Sentenced,
    2. Suffering from deadly diseases,
    3. Being abroad
    4. Incapacitated by other means.

1(d). Adoption:
  • Adoption benefits the orphans, homeless children and destitute youngsters as well as childless couples. Adoption makes life meaningful for lone single adults too as they gain a parent-child relationship. Adoption empowers a powerful relationship between the child and its adopted parents even though they are not related. Section 2(2) of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 states that adoption as the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his/her biological parents and becomes the lawful child of his/her adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child.

What are the steps taken by the judicial proceedings towards the rehabilitation of juveniles?

A child in conflict with law is sent before the Juvenile Justice Board, not before the other courts of law. The juvenile justice board consist of two social worker members among one is women. This is to make sure the case proceedings happen in a way to ascertain the welfare of a child. Care is taken care while issuing justice which not only contains the punishment for the unlawful deed but to rehabilitate the child back to the society.

Pre-trial processes:

  • Rule 11(11) of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 states when dealing with a child in a conflict with the law expect for crimes of heinous nature like rape and murder need to file the First Information Report (FIR) or charge sheet by the police. The information recorded only in the general daily diary. The juvenile should be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board immediately after apprehension by the police.
  • A report on the social background of the juvenile, circumstances of apprehension and the alleged crime committed should be submitted before the Juvenile Justice Board. A Juvenile who is accused of a bailable or non-bailable offence "shall" be released on bail or place under the care of a suitable person/institution.
Trial and Adjudication:
  • The Juvenile Justice Board conducts an inquiry of the juvenile charged with an offence and produced before it by the powers under section 14 of the Juvenile Justice Act. By the provisions of section 18, a juvenile cannot be tried with an adult. The age of the juvenile is determined based on documentary evidence like the birth certificate, matriculation certificate or medical board examination.
  • Rule 13 mandates to conclude the inquiry as soon as possible by the Juvenile Justice Board and then the presence of juvenile during the inquiry may be dispensed by the Board if it deems fit.

Post-trial Processes:

  • After the expiry of the appeal period, the case records of the juvenile are removed to ensure no disqualification attaches to a juvenile in the conflict of law. During his stay in a children's home or the special home itself rehabilitation and social reintegration of the juvenile begin as per the provisions of the section 40 of the Act. For the juveniles to have an honest, industrious and useful life various programmes were conducted by the government authorised after-care organisations after they leave the juvenile homes.

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