- 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, says 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.
- Sarah*, an 18-year-old young woman who spent just over two years at the South Camp Road Centre, says she left the institution a better person.
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, says 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 tells JIS News 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.
Mrs. Hunter notes 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 informs.
The Commissioner points 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.
Mrs. Hunter says a probation and aftercare service programme is also administered for the young ladies after they have been discharged.
These services are administered by the probation and parole officers, social workers and civil society organisations, and enables the Department to monitor the girls’ activities over a specified period after their departure.
“These persons (officers, workers and organisations) are responsible for the community interventions. So, they investigate and provide reports to see if they are staying out of trouble,” the Commissioner points out.
Mrs. Hunter says the institution and by extension the Department, remains committed to improving and implementing strategies that enhance the rehabilitation programme.
This, she adds, is being done by assisting adolescent girls to achieve self-empowerment in order to create a better life for themselves and helping them to mature into strong, self-confident young women.
“We believe young ladies need the security of one-on-one relationships as well as building a relationship with others. This has to come from the parents. For those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law, our programmes allow them to find themselves and their worth,” she contends.
Sarah*, an 18-year-old young woman who spent just over two years at the South Camp Road Centre, says 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 tells JIS News.
Sarah, who says 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 shares.
Additionally, she says she was able to use the guidance provided by the warders in a positive way.
She says 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 says as she recounts what led her to embrace the Centre’s rules and corrective structure.
Sarah notes 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 points 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 expresses that although she was able to discover her strengths and abilities during the confinement, she encourages 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 recommends.
For her part, Superintendent of the South Camp Road centre, Maulette White, says the programmes are based on cognitive restructuring of conduct, which takes in behaviour and is based on thought, attitudes, and beliefs.
Miss White says the goal is to provide a safe, structured and caring environment, which promotes each girl’s personal growth.
She shares that the institution, which caters for females aged 12 to 17, has 42 girls. Of these, 10 are on Correctional Order, which facilitates a fixed date for them to go home based on a judge’s ruling.
She explains that within 24 to 36 hours the child is seen by a doctor, and following the medical examination, an educational assessment is done to determine the literacy level.
“We take things from a psychosocial approach; we have psychologists who visit twice weekly. There is also a psychiatrist who assesses the children with maladaptive behaviour, which helps to develop their treatment plan,” she adds.
The Superintendent says an individualised treatment plan is tailored for each girl, addressing specific treatment needs to modify behavioural patterns and attitudes.
She explains that the ward gets a wide selection of development areas to choose from. These include Mathematics, Language Arts, Social Studies, Computer Studies Agricultural Science, Clothing and Textile, Cosmetology, and Life Skills.
The educational aspect begins with assessment on entering the facility to determine if they fall in any of the three groups (literacy, inter-media or advanced group) or the CXC programme for the well-advanced wards.
“We have young people ranging between ages 12 and 17 plus, who all come to the facility at varying literacy levels. With the help of stakeholders such as HEART Trust/NTA and Jamaica
Foundation for Lifelong Learning, the girls are prepared for school re-entry,” she shares.
Miss White further notes that the yoga programme helps with the anger issues and self-esteem.
“These wholesome activities can be an essential piece in the restoration, remediation, and rehabilitation of girls with depression, stress, anxiety, low confidence, poor socialisation, and high dependency,” she informs.
Additional therapeutic recreational activities, such as art and crafts, sports, dance, drama, music, community outings and cultural awareness, are also a part of the DCS programme.