This Life Beyond Bars
My son was arrested and sent to Siem Reap prison, charged with theft. I haven’t been able to visit him while he’s in the prison, I just can’t afford it. I worry about what’s going to happen when he finishes his sentence, I think it will be difficult for him to come back to the community, since people know what he did.
Mother, Siem Reap Province.
If rural Cambodians already face some of the most difficult social challenges and entrenched poverty in the world, then juvenile prisoners face even more. In the past, the majority would enter prison without any substantial education, and receive no training or rehabilitation, be exposed to greater criminality and drugs, and experience connections to family and community breaking down. No wonder re-offending was at 60% within six months, with huge social costs borne by whole communities.
Most NGOs write off these juveniles as hopeless – but we refuse to. That’s why our program includes vocational training, personal development support, drug and alcohol counselling, help with maintaining family ties, access to legal advice and advocacy, and post-release support.
The results? Young people who return to their communities and strengthen them for the future, rather than deplete or damage them. Young people who no longer re-offend at a rate of 60%, but at 2%.
What is the aim of the program?
To increase the skills, knowledge and family connections of children and young people in prison and to aid successful integration back into their communities upon release.
What activities do we run?
- We deliver vocational training courses for children and young people in prison to help them fulfil their goals and improve their access to, and prospects for, securing paid employment.
- We provide personal development training and goal planning for children and young people in prison.
- We deliver drug and alcohol counselling to support the health and psychosocial wellbeing of children and young people in prison.
- We provide access to vital legal advice and support referral and advocacy to achieve sentence reduction for children and young people in conflict with the law.
- We enable families to reconnect with and visit their child in prison, and support children and young people and their families to enable successful family reintegration following release from prison.
- We provide post release follow up support through case management for released vocational training students.
- We support capacity building for prison staff, communities, and other NGOs and document learning, best practice and outcomes achieved within the program.
What are the program outcomes?
- Children and young people are prepared and positively empowered for their futures through vocational and life skills training.
- Children and young people feel that they have enhanced knowledge and skills providing them with hope, opportunities and choices for their futures.
- Children and young people have increased knowledge about morals, ethics and life skills through personal development training and understand the impact and consequences of their crimes.
- Children and young people and families have an increased understanding of drugs, their impact, and harm reduction strategies.
- Enhanced levels of connectedness between inmates and their families are achieved whilst children are imprisoned.
- Children and young people are supported to respect their families and others in prison and in their communities.
- Children and young people have the opportunity to access a fair and just legal process in line with the national laws of Cambodia.
- Children and young people are successfully reintegrated to their families and communities post release from prison.
- Children and young people are supported to engage in meaningful employment post release from prison.
- Decreased rates of recidivism are experienced among inmates supported by the program compared to those who are not.
This comprehensive report highlights the overall success of TLBB in providing an alternative model of support for juveniles in prison, and for families with a parent in prison. The evidence presented positions TLBB as a good practice model in Cambodia.
To learn about our program for families with a caregiver in prison, go to: This Life in Family
- 70% of juveniles in Cambodian prisons are based in the three prisons where we work.
- 2% is the recidivism rate of students in our program; it was at 60% when we started This Life Beyond Bars
- 37 young adults in our program when released from prison were supported with their reintegration to family and community