Temporary detention centres for young offenders
Experts welcome a Ministry of the Interior initiative to establish temporary detention centres for juvenile criminals
The Ministry of the Interior has prepared a draft legislative Bill, which will provide temporary detention centres for juvenile criminals and vagrant children, according to the newspaper Izvestia. Changes to the Russian Federation’s criminal procedural code are expected to be put forward as a result.
These changes will see children being sent to temporary detention centres, starting with 9- year-olds suspected of, or charged with, criminal offences (i.e. minor, common and serious crimes).
A discussion document suggests consolidating the concept of “child vagrancy” within legislation in order to avoid difficulties in future law-enforcement practice.
According to the Ministry’s statistics, placing juvenile offenders in temporary detention centres as a preventative measure doesn’t happen all that often.
The Ministry has seen a steady reduction in the numbers of those housed in these centres (from 21,700 in 2008 to 13,900 in 2012), despite a rise in the number of offences committed by juveniles throughout Russia. Gaps in the law have resulted in those suspected, or accused, of having perpetrated a crime not being sent to these centres, according to Izvestia.
Experts are supportive of the Ministry’s initiative, providing it is accompanied by a rise in the number of individual rehabilitation programmes. A member of the Russian Federation’s Civic Chamber and expert in juvenile law, Oleg Zykov, believes that temporary detention centres will prove to be an effective way of addressing individual child welfare issues.
“I believe these centres should become an integral part of the overall justice system. In our view, they are crucial to an efficiently-operating juvenile system, given that each child’s situation is different and the need for working one-to-one with children” says Oleg Zykov. Much is going to depend on what kinds of techniques are put in place in these centres, taking into account the needs of different age groups. More rehab work within the centres, allied to close cooperation with rehab social services, i.e. those that will provide individual rehab programmes, will be hugely beneficial to the justice system.”
According to Zykov, these centres largely operated smoothly up until the police reform, with attempts now being made to revive this system. The main text of the draft legislative Bill has not yet been published, so it is hard for experts to pass judgement on this new initiative at present.
“Any crime committed by a child is always a perpetuation of crime against a child. The solution to the problem is not to try and drastically change the child, but instead to alter his or her surroundings. Temporary isolation centres is one alternative to a colony system. They should be set up where these children live to avoid them being dragged away from their normal home environment. However, it is still unclear what level of individual rehabilitation programmes will be available”, according to the member of the Russian Federation’s Civic Chamber.
The Ministry’s initiative has also been welcomed by members of the Federation Council Valery Ryazansky and Valentina Petrenko. According to the Chair of the Federation Council for Social Policy, Valery Ryazansky, it is vital that major preventative and protective measures are put in place to cater for these children and teenagers, as well as creating a safe environment in detention centres where they can be educated and taught to adapt.
The Chair of the All-Russian Movement “Russia’s mothers”, Senator Valentina Petrenko, is convinced that children accused of having committed crimes should be sent to these temporary detention centres, rather than to hostels or communes. “It’s crucial that children are looked after 24 hours a day, but that hasn’t always been the case in our experience. That’s because either parents lead anti-social lives, or simply fail to exercise any proper control over their children. Under such circumstances, a child is inclined to find itself out on the street for various reasons. These children not only commit crime but often re-offend. This raises the question – where should the child be placed? There are hostels which house children who haven’t committed crimes – equally, there are communes which accommodate children who’ve broken the law and been punished for it. There should be specialists in these centres such as doctors and psychologists who know how to deal with children”, said Valentina Petrenko to Izvestia.
Аuthor: Yulia Vyatkin