Youths in penal institutions including the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) at Onderneeming, Essequibo Coast and the Juvenile Detention centre in Georgetown are receiving supported through the Probation Department’s ‘Aftercare Programme’ so they can be re-integrated into society.
The Aftercare Programme seeks to ensure that the youths, while in these institutions are going through a process of rehabilitation. They are provided with technical skills training in the area of electrical installation, mechanic, tailoring, information technology, agriculture and academics.
“The probation officers have the responsibility to ensure that these persons are accessing these services while in the prison system… certain services are being provided to these youths so even when they come out of there they are not coming out knowing nothing, but they are coming out with some skills and we also are trying to ensure that these persons receive certification,” Forbes Monroe, the Ministry of Social Protection’s Chief Probation and Social Services Officer told the Government Information Agency (GINA).
Forbes Munroe, Ministry of Social Protection’s, Chief Probation and Social Services Officer
Monroe explained that the programme also seeks to make a connection between the youth who is incarcerated and his/her family.
“What we want to do is to ensure that the family and the persons who are incarcerated stay connected. They know what is happening with each other, a new child is born into the family, a death in the family or even a promotion within the family,” Monroe noted. He said that this will help to remove the stress and have a state of normalcy even while that person is within the institution.
Oslyn Crawford- Smith, Assistant Chief Probation and Social Services Officer explained that the Ministry will also provide guidance to the parents so as to ensure that the youth is released into an environment that promotes development, rather than putting him/her at risk of getting into the same situation that caused them to be placed in a penal institution in the first place.
Oslyn Crawford- Smith, Ministry of Social Protection’s, Assistant Chief Probation and Social Services Officer
She also noted that there is need for more community outreaches by probation and social services’ officers, to be aware of some of the issues affecting youths within those communities. “For instance, if there is a child that is taken to the police for whatever reason and is taken to court, the probation is notified to provide a report and that officer now has to go out and do investigation, whereas if the officer was doing more outreaches they would be aware of some of these issues,” she said.
The Ministry also provides support in the form of counselling and anger management for the youths while they are in the institutions. After they are released, the Ministry conducts follow-ups over a six-month period to ensure there are behaviour modification and adjustments. The intention is to ensure that when the youths are released from the correctional facilities, they are equipped to make meaningful contributions to society.
The Ministry is in the process of recruiting more Probation and Social Services officers to effectively execute its mandate.