One of the drawbacks in Malawi’s justice system is institutional inability to fast track cases. This has resulted in congestion in the police cells and prisons of Malawi. The majority of these are the poor and uneducated youth and children. This gives an impression that access to justice favours the rich and adults.
It is from such a background that YCD started a project in prisons, courts and police stations. The objective of this project is to protect those u-accompanied young offenders who are already in conflict with the law, prevent children from committing crimes and facilitate social reintegration of the children offenders after their jail term.
YCD has Social Worker Volunteers who work as children social aids in police, courts and prisons. These Social Workers visit the selected courts and prisons weekly to check the children cases records and monitor their situation including gathering statistics such as the number of children in prison, meet prisons/courts staff, individual meeting with the young offenders, collect map/phone contact, set date for home assessment. The Social Workers also conduct weekly legal aid clinics to children offenders, assist them to complete standard bail forms or appeals forms if need be.
We also conduct weekly counselling sessions to the prisoners at Chikwawa prison as well as counselling to their families. Research findings have shown that the average person in rehabilitation psychotherapy shows greater improvement than 80% of similarly troubled people who do not receive therapy. Counselling is very important in enhancing social reintegration at the same time preventing reoffending.
YCD also trains prisoners in Life Skills for Behaviour Change. These life skills are meant to equip the inmates with the much needed life support skills for behaviour change that help them negotiate alternative activities than criminal activities and avoid criminal relapse/reoffending when they are released. After graduating from the Life Skills Program, upon their release from the prison, the prisoners that have graduated are given CHF60 (MK60,000) as a business starter pack.