March 8th, 2013
Juveniles in Prison
All over the world teenagers are in prison for stealing, drug use, and sexual abuse. The teenagers that are in prison, here in Malawi, don’t receive a good enough health care, justice system, and help they need for when they are released. Most prisons and jails are going to be overcrowded and unsanitary. The youth in Malawi are overlooked, they are underprivileged and no one ministers to them. Now imagine, if you can, how many of the youth in prison are receiving less than a citizen living in the United States. Even in America the lower class earn more than people in Malawi. We as humans need to step up and do something about prison treatment worldwide. “Kachere Boys Reformatory Centre was built in the 1960’s originally as a remand centre”(Dowling 1). It hasn’t changed much at all since it was built 50 years ago. They have added only one small room they use as a workspace for the teachers. A huge stepping-stone here in Malawi would be improving the Health Care that these inmates receive. Malawi, being one of the poorest countries in the world, has a hard time providing clean water, safe waste disposal systems, and housing for its citizens let alone the inmates in a youth prison. As Ruth Dowling said, “While over the past two years significant strides have been made in improving conditions at Kachere, sleeping and sanitary conditions remain sub-standard” (Dowling 1). There is not enough space in the prison; having been there myself I witnessed how little space these boys had to live in. Ruth says again, “Kachere was originally built with a capacity for 70 persons. While writing this post today I am saddened to say that there are 202 boys being held at Kachere, 33 are awaiting trial (16 of who are answering charges of homicide) with the remainder serving sentences for a variety of offences from simple theft to robbery and homicide”(Dowling 1). This article was written in October of last year and it hurts to say but now there are over 240 inmates living in only enough space fit for 70. This is only one youth prison on earth and there are 240 inmates below the age of eighteen. How many kids then would be in prison worldwide?
Juvenile criminals should always be tried differently than adults are, but in Malawi you are tried as an adult at the age of seven. As Professor Fidelis wrote “The age of criminal responsibility for a child in Malawi is seven years, which is felt to be too low and may lead children as young as eight years old to be tried as adults”(Kanyongolo 115). This problem occurs because of the need of lawyers in this country. Due to the problems of a third world country most people steal to survive and they have no lawyers there to defend them. “There are three hundred qualified lawyers for 14 million people”(Anderson 2). With the limited number of lawyers to work with many people just go without a lawyer, but even if they wanted a lawyer they don’t make enough money to afford them. In the United States you have a lawyer assigned to you if you are unable to afford their assistance. Here in Malawi you either have enough money to hire a lawyer or you work on your own. As Anderson says, “A rich person can employ the best lawyers to present his defense, whereas the fate of the poor person lies in his own hands or the service of public legal aid which is only a little better”(Anderson 2). He writes again, “There is only one legal aid lawyer in the Southern Region of Malawi, which has the highest population concentration in the country compared to the Central and Northern regions”(Anderson 2). With only one legal aid lawyer in the whole of the Southern Region there is no chance for a poor man to receive help while in court.
“Malawi is listed as one of the poorest countries in the world, and a direct link has been established between poverty and crime”(Kanyongolo 99). Since living here most of my life I can testify that life outside of the walls where I live is hard. Most people are not receiving enough food and water to quench the human need. Stealing is common because they steal to survive, not out of some rebellious nature. “Theft and corruption, the two most common crimes are directly linked to poverty, even though not completely explained by it”(Kanyongolo 100). Many of the youth in prison are in for theft of crop or livestock. Professor Fidelis took a survey and concluded that, “Crime in the country was relatively low, with the two most common crimes, theft of crops and theft of livestock, being the least reported”(Kanyongolo 100). Most crime is dealt with within the village but few are lucky to escape and be taken to prison. Malawi has been expanding and in that expansion the main town has grown outward which leads to more theft and corruption, as more people are forced to either step up in society or live in poverty. People cannot step up and they fall into poverty and live in horrible conditions. With this movement it almost forces people into crime. Fidelis says, “However, despite notable efforts to produce better policing, crime has been on a constant increase since 2001, due principally to the level of poverty in Malawi”(Kanyongolo 99). Poverty is a huge problem in many African countries because we have just not been able to bring ourselves out of the old days.
Young adults are the world’s future. All around the world kids are starting to let themselves go. You can see the impact by just looking, parents are letting their kids do things that parents in the seventies would never have even thought of. The world is falling apart at the hands of the next generation of humans. “Every country in the world is concerned with the safety and well- being of its children and young people”(Margaret 59). This is true every parent wants to see his or her kids do well in life but it doesn’t help when you let your kids do drugs or have sex before marriage. “They represent our future and our potential, but are also extremely vulnerable”(Margaret 59). If we continue letting go to the things we can control what happens when we hit something that is out of our control? We will cave and be destroyed. “Not every child becomes involved in delinquent behavior but it is a rite of passage for many”(Margaret 59). For many teenagers in the states it’s cool to be a rebel. Many kids will do drugs, be in relationships they aren’t ready for, and take on responsibilities that they cannot handle. As a teenager I have done things that I haven’t been ready for. I rebel because I think as an individual I can live on my own but I do not realize that without help I will get nowhere. Teenagers in this generation are angry, for reasons I don’t fully understand, and they victimize other kids. A cycle evolves out of this as young adults we pick on the younger generation and make them angry, then in turn when the get older they turn around and abuse the younger generation. “Young offenders have often been victimized themselves in childhood and begin to victimize others as they grow older”(Margaret 61). As a people group, man needs to stop letting go and take ahold of the reigns of his life. Then as parents help lead the reigns that their child is using. Without help the young generation race will fall into evil and ultimately destruction.
Every day multiple teenagers are being put in prison and are going to be there for a long time. If people are to stand idle and not look to change these young adults the world is never going to change. Young adults are so easy to corrupt, and they need their minds to be shaped at this age to become lawful citizens. Don’t take away their freedoms because that will just lead to them wanting to be rebellious. They are like small children, when you say one thing they do the exact opposite.
Anderson, Hillery. “Justice Delayed in Malawi’s Criminal Justice System Paralegals vs. Lawyers.” International Journal of criminal justice sciences 1.1 (2006):2-11. Web. 7 March 2013.
Dowling, Ruth. “Legal Literacy in Kachare Boys Reformatory Centre.” 30 October. 2012. Web. 7 March 2013.
Fidelis Edge Kanyongolo “MALAWI: JUSTICE SECTOR AND THE RULE OF LAW.” Criminal Justice. n.d. Web. 7 March 2013.
Shaw, Margaret, and Lullu Tschiwula. "Developing citizenship among urban youth in conflict with the law." Environment and Urbanization 14.2 (2002): 59-69.