Child Rights Activists have identified the lack of modern reformative correctional centres across the country as an abuse of juveniles to rightful custody.
According to the Activists, juveniles who were incarcerated in prison instead of rehabilitation centres for reformation often came out as hardened criminals after serving their terms.
These juveniles become recidivists because they had adapted the uncultured prison attitudes and did not respond to reforms due to lack of facilities and capacity to transform them to become responsible adults.
They were speaking at a roundtable on the theme: Justice for children: Bridging the gap between legislation and the practice”
Organized by the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) with support from the European Union (EU) the discussion brought together representatives from the Gender Ministry, security agencies, health experts, civil society organisations, legal practitioners, traditional leaders, media and school children.
It was aimed at re-engaging stakeholders’ interest to identify legislative, policy and institutional gaps, reforms and amendments in furtherance of the rights of children within the justice delivery system.
It also sought to bridge the gap between legislation and practice within the broad outlook of Ghana’s justice for children by ensuring that children in conflict and in contact with the law were adequately protected.
The Activists observed that some behaviours of juveniles were inherited, resulting in personality disorders, observation from others, depression and anxiety manifesting themselves as delinquency or criminal behaviour.
Mr Benjamin Otoo, a former Social Welfare Director, expressed concern about the deterioration of the various correctional centres across the country, due to years of neglect.
He noted that there was currently no place for offenders who came out of juvenile Institutions to be supervised under probation officers before they were reintegrated into the society.
This, Mr Otoo said, was a societal failure because these innocent juveniles would not be enable to contribute effectively to national development, even though they had the potentials, intelligence and dreams to achieve higher laurels but landed in criminal activities.
Mr Clark Noyoru, a Legal Resource Person who facilitated the programme, attributed the upsurge of juvenile delinquency to the disintegration of the family unit.
He explained that the traditional role of the family in child protection and crime prevention had been seriously eroded by poverty, urbanization and “chronic” unemployment.
He advocated the revival of the extended family system which sustained the moral upbringing of children to become responsible adults, whiles parents took keen interest in the welfare of their children.
Mr Noyoru stressed the need for a national concerted effort to strengthen programmes for the rehabilitation of juveniles, social reintegration and community justice systems to enhance access to justice and protection for children in conflict with the law.
He called for offenders’ register to identify serial offenders and punish them as such while bridging the gap of contradiction between the legal age for sexual activities and the legal age for marriage.