Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation

Juvenile rehabilitation centers should address treatment needs, skill development and successful re-integration of juveniles into the society

Juvenile Crime

Juvenile Crime

All juveniles have individual strengths that can be identified, built on, and employed to prevent future delinquency

Youth Activities

Youth Activities

Engaging a community and neighborhood that promote and foster healthy activities for juveniles

Life-Skills

Life-Skills

Availability of economic and other resources exposes juveniles in attaining multiple experiences that supports their life-skills

Family Support

Family Support

Participation in shared activities between youth and family (including siblings and parents) is key to positive re-integration of juveniles

 

Rehabilitating young offenders

Kenya-Vickie

Vickie Wambura, founder of Nafisika Trust, an organization that seeks to rehabilitate juveniles and to reduce recidivism rates among prison inmates in Kenya

Vickie Wambura is the founder of Nafisika Trust, a prison rehabilitation program that seeks to reduce recidivism rates among prison inmates in Kenya. She has also won numerous awards in recognition and support of her work as a leading social entrepreneur with an innovative solution to youth employment in Africa. Vickie discusses the relationship between incarceration and re-integration of juvenile and adult offenders.
She explains that both young and adult offenders come from diverse socio-economic, educational and family backgrounds. However, there are common threads among them, which entail dysfunctional family backgrounds, low educational levels, unemployment and poverty.
For most first-time offenders, prison is a place of self-reflection about the choices they have made. However, many do not feel hopeful. Prison is like a living graveyard of untapped potential. Its dwellers walk around with dreams in their hearts that only need time, patience and support to bring out.
She adds that her organization ensure that offenders attain the support they need in order to realize their dreams when they exit prison. The common notion is that the prison system is slanted towards punishment as opposed to rehabilitation.
“It is known for its power to take away all hope and suck one into its repetitive cycle of arrests and imprisonment. We try to change this”, she said.
Most offenders are talented and hope to achieve their dreams with the desires to attain college degrees and there is great demand from prisoners for business and entrepreneurship skills.
She noted that one aspect that has contributed to crime is lack of employment. The lack of access to gainful employment is a cause of frustration and disappointment for many young people. She affirms that the country’s unemployment rate is estimated at 40% and former prisoners have even fewer chances than their peers who do not have a prison record. A main concern for prison inmates is their integration back into the job market. The scarcity of gainful employment is one of the contributing factors to the cycle of crime and recidivism.
Her organization tries to provide inmates with competitive skills, so they improve their employability and incomes in the long-run. This, in turn, lowers the financial frustrations on individuals and their families, gives them something worth protecting, and reduces the likelihood of re-offence.
To reduce recidivism, Nafisika trust focuses on behavioral change and economic empowerment of inmates while they are in prison. The name “Nafisika” means “bring out into well-being” in the Swahili language.
“We help bring out the potential that lies dormant in young people behind bars. Our goal is to break the cycle of a life of crime by equipping individuals with the skills, knowledge and opportunities they need to change their circumstances for a brighter future”, she adds.
She explains that the organization has developed programs in response to the main causes of crime among the inmate population: dysfunctional families, low educational levels and a lack of economically viable skills.
Currently Nafisika Trust offers four programs which entail Counseling, Education, employment and exit programs.
Counseling incorporates both social and substance abuse programs. This program helps prisoners suffering from psychological issues and substance abuse. The organization has also partnered with the psychology department of the United States International University, in delivering quality counseling and family therapy in prisons.
Concerning education, the organization provides basic education program enabling juveniles to enroll for national examination and some proceed to further their education.
“This, in turn, improves the employability of many ex-juveniles. We also have a long running computer skills education program in which we teach basic computer literacy skills to those who already have some proficiency in reading and writing”, she adds.
Employment programs consist of entrepreneurship training and business incubation projects. The organization has also partnered with Kenya College of Accountancy (KCA University) to deliver an entrepreneurship course, which develops self-awareness, assists with career goal-setting and acquiring financial literacy, sales and business plan development skills. These programs equip both juveniles and adult offenders with skills to enable them to either secure employment or start their own businesses.
The essence of exit programs is to help released offenders get re-integrated into the society. It is evident that most ex-juveniles suffer rejection and stigmatization. Some find it hard to get jobs as they may not be adequately skilled or are not employed because they have a criminal record. Nafisika walks with former ex-juveniles down this difficult path and helps them get on their feet as fast as possible. Before release, juveniles go through interview sessions with Nafisika and prison staff to help them envision their lives after release.
“We hold family therapy sessions so the bond between them and their family is strengthened. Upon release, we hold their hand through the tough times. We also link individuals with prospective employers, support them in starting a business or get them to youth polytechnics”, she said.
However, the organization faces the challenge of engaging adequate volunteers. On most occasions, its volunteer system has a pool of interns and young professionals from different sectors.
“We like to work with young volunteers whom the inmates can relate with. Every year, Nafisika involves an average of 60 volunteers in its programs, and this is often a defining experience for both inmates and volunteers alike” she added.
Some of the volunteers have gone on to stay with the organization longer than they signed up for. Many carry on providing their services to inmates even as they continue with school or pursue their careers.
She reckons that unemployment has remained a challenge for most countries in Africa thus contributing to increase in crime. Young, idle and unemployed youth are prime targets for recruitment into violent gangs. At such a productive age, young people need to channel their energy in the right direction. They should be viewed as a great resource to the economy and the country.

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