UNICEF's Sarah Marcus reports on a program to help rehabilitate Georgian juvenile offenders.
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Rehabilitating Juvenile Offenders in Georgia
Sarah Marcus: This is the educational establishment for juveniles at the Penitentiary Department, a prison for underage male offenders in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
The establishment has 153 boys between the ages of 14 and 18. It has been targeted in a reform of the juvenile justice sector undertaken by the government of Georgia and UNICEF and supported by the European Union.
Rehabilitation of young offenders and their reintegration into society is a crucial aspect of the reform.
Male: I’m very interested and I’m eager to learn. I realized that better after coming here I want to learn myself, no one forces me too.
Sarah Marcus: Thanks to the reform project, this young boy and his peers can now take part in vocational learning programs and study video editing, computer maintenance and repair, animation, web design and hairdressing.
Academic Education for young offenders here has also been upgraded and classrooms has been refurbished and equipped. These underage girls who are serving sentences into Tbilisi’s women’s prison number five have also benefited from the reform.
They too are learning practical skills like dressmaking and hair dressing. A room was specially equipped with computers and other essentials as a place for the girls to study and spend free time. And they now have living quarters which are separated from the adult residence in lined with international standards.
Female: It’s good that we have this room now. We are better off now. There are only three of us who live together. I have great hopes and dreams about changing my life. I’m very sorry about my mistakes.
Sarah Marcus: Under the reform project, all staff in institutions dealing with juvenile offenders has been trained in child rights and child sensitivity. Strengthening alternatives to detention is another vital part of the reform.
Here at the Tbilisi probation office, young people are helped by probation officers through group work and then individual session through the psychologist are hired to work exclusively with them.
Most children who take part in the probation systems restorers of gesture program achieve the goal of the scheme. Recognition of the impact of their crime on themselves and others, these helps prevent future crimes.
Male: If I could back in time, I would change one thing. I would not have done what I did.
Sarah Marcus: In Tbilisi, Georgia, this is Sarah Marcus reporting for UNICEF Television, Unite for Children.